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Hate war? Coward! Great arm? HERO!
May 1, 2005 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Sure, you could defend the country, but Houston needs a good defense even more! Say, do you want to shirk your commitment to the armed forces but flat-out desertion is too controversial? Become a pro athlete instead! West Point is revising its rules to stipulate that student athletes who join professional sports teams can avoid active duty. The taxpayer-funded military academy will now allow student athletes to reduce their active duty time if faced with the unbearable burden of being offered multi-million dollar pro contracts.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (33 comments total)

 
They just don't want to shoot Pat Tillman again.
posted by srboisvert at 10:34 AM on May 1, 2005


Reminds me of a similar outrage concerning taxpayer funded and payed instruction of italian jet fighter pilots. The pilots joined the army, received the training and decided to leave the military after the few years of compulsory service for a more lucrative career as private airline pilots. Now it's the other way around as private pilots don't live as nearly as well as before.
posted by elpapacito at 10:36 AM on May 1, 2005


Holy crap, that's awesome.
could you get further from the example of Tillman?
I guess dying from friendly fire isn't as alluring to the next generation.
posted by Busithoth at 10:37 AM on May 1, 2005


there seem to be a lot of recent revisions being made to draft laws, which seems odd, seeing as how they keep saying it's not going to be used in this war under any circumstances.

or is it just that the media doesn't report on the changes to the draft system when there isn't a war on?
i'm prime drafting' age, so i've been kinda worrying a lot lately...
posted by es_de_bah at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2005


Elvis still went and fought. And he was the king. This is a bunch of crap.
posted by nickerbocker at 11:06 AM on May 1, 2005


Well, uh, who cares?
posted by delmoi at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2005


Didn't they do something like this with David Robinson, too, IIRC?
posted by jonmc at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2005


The Astros need offense, not defense.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:40 AM on May 1, 2005


recent revisions being made to draft laws

I know that this story isn't the only thing you're referencing, but this article has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DRAFT. When you attend any of the service academies you agree to serve a certain amount of time on active duty. This is just modifying those rules.

There have long been exceptions to the policy. You can always medical out (my ex-girlfriend got out of active Navy duty that way) and they will usually let plebes who wash out off the hook. Of course, you could phrase the last as "the Navy lets complete failures take taxpayer money to attend the Naval Academy for a full year without ever paying it back!!!!" but htat would be over-sensationalizing.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 11:41 AM on May 1, 2005


In this case, the student athlete "will work with Army recruiters part-time for six years, visiting schools to speak with students and attending other recruiting functions."

This makes sense because more high school athletes will attend the academy if they know that it won't kill their chances at a professional career. The final point in this is the incredibly small number of college athletes that go pro. Who is this hurting? West Point gets more student athletes than they would before the policy, and the Army only loses a few of them to professional sports teams -- but also gain the publicity for recruitment.
posted by MrZero at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2005


Also, America needs circuses.
posted by blacklite at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2005


es_de_bah, what does this have to do with the draft? I haven't heard about any changes in draft laws, and this article doesn't talk about them either.

In any event, looks like the Navy and Air Force have this program, the Navy since 2000, and apparently no Midshipman has taken the offer, so, hopefully, this won't be a big deal overall. The Reds are also prepared to pay the cost of Holden's education. Aside from that though? What a bunch of crap. I'm not going to pillory Holden yet, as we don't know his decision, but even his dad doesn't think it's a great idea. These Cadets made an important commitment, and while that's not exactly sexy enough to make good recruiting copy, maybe if the flag and staff officers and civilian leaders of the armed forces weren't playing out some of the worst aspects of this no-accountability administration, and adhered to the standards that they set for themselves, maybe they wouldn't have a problem getting high-quality recruits.

I seriously considered joining a few years ago, and now I have no regrets that I did not, because what I see are soldiers, sailors, and airmen being treated poorly by the administration, and the officer corps (as a policy making whole, not all individual officers,) are scapegoating them and not leading by example as they should. Even though I predict the effects of this policy change in the Army will be minor, it is just another sign of the civilian leadership, at least, being more interested in PR then actually promoting a core of discipline and honor so necessary to the military.
posted by Snyder at 11:56 AM on May 1, 2005


Well, you could argue it would be good publicity for the military schools to have alumni players in such visible positions. Plus, if you have this exemption more decent players might consider the military schools and the teams might stop sucking, also good PR.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2005


It's an "ownership society": if you're poor, your pwned.

(We may take away your bread, but we won't get in the way of your circuses at the local arena.)

(I could have sworn I posted this, but I don't see it and MetaFilthy doesn't see a deletion either. If it was deleted, my apologies for the re-post.)
posted by orthogonality at 12:19 PM on May 1, 2005


This makes sense because more high school athletes will attend the academy if they know that it won't kill their chances at a professional career.

Dude, that's exactly why it makes no sense. The point- in fact, the very purpose of West Point and why our tax dollars pay for it- is "to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of selfless service to the nation."

In other words, the very reason for the existence of West Point is to train young Americans for a professional career in the military. If you're going to West Point, tight end for the Broncos isn't supposed to be one of your career objectives. But hey, lifetime of selfless service, $12 million a year and a shoe deal- six of one.

Plus, if you have this exemption more decent players might consider the military schools and the teams might stop sucking

With all due respect, who fucking cares? You're saying a 45-year old reservist called up after being inactive for 20 years should take the spot of a West Point cadet in Iraq because it might improve the quality of the Turkey Day Army-Navy game?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:21 PM on May 1, 2005


We're looking at this thing completely wrong. What this country needs is compulsory military service for all professional athletes. All these active, fit, competitively-minded people-- why aren't they serving in the front lines?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:26 PM on May 1, 2005


Because the military acutally takes its drug tests seriously?
posted by Cyrano at 12:41 PM on May 1, 2005


johnmc: IIRC, following his growth spurt, Ensign David Robinson served out his Navy commitment before accepting an NBA contract two years after he graduated. At seven feet tall, he was not a candidate for Navy air or the submarine corps anyway. The old heavyweight champion Joe Louis served in a PR-type role in the Army.
posted by Cranberry at 1:36 PM on May 1, 2005


Because the military acutally takes its drug tests seriously?


Heh. But wouldn't steroids actually help you out on the battlefield?
posted by gyc at 2:01 PM on May 1, 2005


There is also Chad Hennings who graduated from the Air Force Academy, became an A-10 pilot who flew combat missions during Desert Storm and completed his four year service commitment before joining the Dallas Cowboys in 1992.

One of the story lines in Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point concerned a cadet known as "Huck Finn". Finn is offered a free-agent contract by the NY Giants. He is excited at the possibility and begins to make arrangements to join the Giants at training camp before he receives word that permission has been denied. Finn, though disappointed, enthusiastically carries on with his military career, attending Ranger school.

XQUZYPHYR's overheated rhetoric is much ado about nothing and seems to be informed by anti-military animus. This policy change will affect a small number of cadets.
posted by mlis at 2:52 PM on May 1, 2005


Finn's salary would have been the league minimum of $800,000 a year. An impressive salary, no doubt, but hardly the $12,000,000 a year plus shoe contracts XQU. . . mentioned.
posted by mlis at 2:55 PM on May 1, 2005


At seven feet tall, he was not a candidate for Navy air or the submarine corps anyway.

That makes sense. A high school freind of mine's dad was 6' 10" and got out of going to Vietnam that way.
posted by jonmc at 3:48 PM on May 1, 2005


Holy crap, they have to draft him into something. Somewhere. 7' and shoulders like that? He'd win every battle! He'd just have to stand on the front lines, growl a bit, and the oncoming enemy would crap their pants and that'd be it.
posted by schroedinger at 6:40 PM on May 1, 2005


Well, schroedinger, look at it another way: a buncha soldiers marching in formation and one head towering over the others. Might as well paint a bulls-eye on himself.
posted by jonmc at 6:48 PM on May 1, 2005


The taxpayer-funded military academy will now allow student athletes to reduce their active duty time . . .

You're saying a 45-year old reservist called up after being inactive for 20 years should take the spot of a West Point cadet in Iraq . . .

XQUZYPHYR - Your point that athletes enjoy a special status is well taken. However, I feel that a couple of your statements bear correcting.

(1) This new program does not deter the very likely possibility that a cadet athlete serving as a reservist will be called up to active duty. Holden will bear the same activation status as all reservists. Further, all Army officers other than those who graduated from West Point have an indefinite service commitment with a minimum service of eight years. In other words, both active and reserve officers must serve eight years before release from the military.

(2) No one who is "inactive" for twenty years is being recalled and deployed. You maybe thinking of the Inactive Ready Reserves (IRR). People serve in the IRR only when they have a remaining service commitment after having served in the regular reserves or active duty. For example, I served five years in the IRR because I resigned from the Air Force before my commitment was up. I was activated only once during that five year period. Once the remaining committment has been served, the person is no longer in the IRR. Thus, they are no longer subject to recall. The average IRR committment is 2 years, never 20.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:20 PM on May 1, 2005


es_de_bah: i'm prime drafting' age, so i've been kinda worrying a lot lately...

You know if you move to Canada now it's not deserting.
posted by Mitheral at 6:59 AM on May 2, 2005


...45-year old reservist called up after being inactive for 20 years...

I'd love to see a link where this actually happened.
posted by moosedogtoo at 9:01 AM on May 2, 2005


If you elect an oilman as President you'd logically expect oil prices to rise.

If in turn that oil man also has ties to professional sports, what makes you surprised that the Commander-and-Chief tables a sweetheart deal for pro sports?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:52 AM on May 2, 2005


I don't know what an "inactive reservist" might look like, but I do know, personally, a late-40s librarian reservist who's now in-country after having been called up last fall.
posted by djfiander at 9:56 AM on May 2, 2005


I'd love to see a link where this actually happened.
In the last few months, the Army has sent notices to more than 4,000 former soldiers informing them that they must return to active duty, but more than 1,800 of them have already requested exemptions or delays, many of which are still being considered.

And, of about 2,500 who were due to arrive on military bases for refresher training by Nov. 7, 733 had not shown up.

Army officials say the call-up is proceeding at rates they anticipated, and they are trying to fill needed jobs with former soldiers as they did in the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

Still, the resistance puts further strain on a military that has summoned reserve troops in numbers not seen since World War II and forced thousands of soldiers in Iraq to postpone their departures when their enlistment obligations ended.

Tensions are flaring between the Army and some of its veterans, who say they are surprised and confused about their obligations and unsure where to turn.

'I consider myself a civilian,' said Rick Howell, a major from Tuscaloosa, Ala., who said he thought he had left the Army behind in 1997 after more than a decade flying helicopters. 'I've done my time. I've got a brand new baby and a wife, and I haven't touched the controls of an aircraft in seven years. I'm 47 years old. How could they be calling me? How could they even want me?'

-"Former G.I.'s, Ordered to War, Fight Not to Go", New York Times, November 16, 2004
My bad. They're calling up 45-year olds who have only been inactive for eight years. Well, gosh, that's okay, then.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:25 AM on May 2, 2005


...45-year old reservist called up after being inactive for 20 years...

------

I'd love to see a link where this actually happened.

Retired Army colonel, 70, sent to Afghanistan.

By the thousands, soldiers 50 and older are being deployed.

Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, who describes herself as “over 50,” says her small frame and some old back pain made it difficult to fire her M-16 in a marksmanship refresher course. . .

Murray is one of about 4,400 Army soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve who completed their active-duty service but have been notified they must get back in uniform. Most likely, they are headed for Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s, the returning soldiers bring valuable experience to the Army. But their advanced ages, weakened eyes and expanded waistlines mean doing things a bit differently
.

posted by mlis at 11:27 AM on May 2, 2005


I'm genuinely curious about this. I'm not trying to drive home any agenda here. My husband was in the Army Special Forces for six years. He had the option of being designated as IRR when he got out, but he chose not to. Did these people chose to be designated IRR? It sounds to me like some of these people have special skills (like the 70 year old doctor) that are needed and they aren't being forced back into service.
posted by moosedogtoo at 2:27 PM on May 2, 2005


To give XQUZYPHYR some credit here, some athletes did sacrifice huge chunks of their athletic career to serve in the military. There was a time when exceptions were not granted based on athletic ability.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on May 2, 2005


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