Playing Football after Graduation

West Point has started letting Grads that are recruited by Pro sports teams go be recruiters, and play pro ball.  This has caused much heated discussion, especially amongst my fellow alumni.  I initially wrote this as a response to an email discussion, but decided to sit on it for a while and ruminate.  This is really more of a collection of my thoughts at the time than a coherent essay.

It seems particularly stark in contrast to the classmates that are headed to Iraq. Would people feel as strongly about the matter if we were not sending people into harms way?

Also, is admissions the only reason that success in Army Sports, Football in particular, is important?

What about the rest of us that “did our time” and are now sitting out this conflict? Yeah, we played Army for our total of 8 years Active and Reserve. For many, it was a great experience that has lead to success later in life. Are we any less guilty of avoiding our Duty? How about the guy that “only” goes Signal Corps as opposed to going in to a combat Arms, or that goes Artillery to avoid Infantry? There always is a way that someone who goes less than the full HUAH can be said to be shirking.

Is it really doing our Country any good to be sending our Grads over to Iraq? I think most people would say that it is not cut and dried: some yes, some know, many I don’t knows. So why is it so important that these kids go to Iraq instead of playing Football? Is it really just a question of paying your dues?

Maybe the best way this kid can server his country is by being a kick-ass footballer, getting the name of West Point up in front of the country, and help to raise the awareness of civilians that we even have service academies. Maybe He’ll have a two year career, get cut, and end up back on Active Duty. Maybe he’ll be such a kick ass recruiter that he’ll fill the Army’s quota single handedly. Or maybe the Army wasted money in training him, and it was a mistake to send him to the NFL.

Is keeping a bunch of barely post adolescents isolated from the rest of civilization for four years the best way to prepare them for the officer corps? Does the Army get as much bang for it’s buck vie the Service Academies as it does Via ROTC? Sure West Point has produced it’s share of generals, but would those same people be great generals if they had gone ROTC? Would the opportunities in the Army be different if the Largest block of officers in the Army didn’t come from the same school? I have no idea if what we are doing makes sense or not. I know I gained a lot and gave up a lot by going to West Point. I’ll never know what I would have gained if I had gone another route.

Letting Cadets go professional  will allow the coaches to recruit players who, as Seniors in High School think they have a chance to play pro ball. Most College Football players want to go pro, but few are chosen. I suspect that a good portion of these players would make decent soldiers. So Army Football gets a better team, and good but the less-than-great ball players now have the chance of a career as an Army officer.

Many kids enter West Point as an option, and only develop the drive to be Army officers while being at West Point. I suspect that this is one of the most important roles that West Point plays in support of our Officer corps.

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