Service academies need clear, consistent rules for potential pro athletes

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It seems like the question comes up nearly every year. It needs to be resolved once and for all.

Athletes who attend service academies either should or shouldn’t be allowed to defer their service obligations to pursue careers in pro sports. Whatever it is, the various institutions — West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy — need to select a lane and stay in it.

Navy defensive back Cameron Kinley, barred from deferring his service obligation for a shot at the NFL, has become the latest example of the wishy-washy nature of the service academies. Over the past several years, the rule has changed and re-changed and changed again. Someone needs to make a rule and stick with it.

Most importantly, every kid with high-end athletic talent who accepts an appointment to a service academy should know the rules before he or she signs on the dotted line. It’s only fair. Whatever the rule, the athletes need to know it, and the service academies need to honor it.

Honor. That’s a word that gets thrown around all the time at military schools. There’s nothing less honorable than a constantly moving target.

18 responses to “Service academies need clear, consistent rules for potential pro athletes

  1. Disagree because as soon as there a rule for all a player will want to be treated individually because they feel they have some “special circumstance”. If you join the military expect the next 4 years to be service, and if you are a top end athlete be happy if you are allowed out early.

  2. While I agree with you that the vague nature of the rule needs to be changed… tread very lightly when you type out the word “Honor”, unless you stood a post!

  3. How about sticking to the old way. You go to an academy, you do your obligation. You want a shot of going pro, pick another school. It’s simple.

  4. Why should “Dreams” to play Pro Sports outweigh the obligations agreed to when these kids sign up for a free ride at a service academy.

    What makes sports special? What if his dream was to be an acrobat and Cirque du Soleil wanted to hire him. Should that be allowed? I love pro sports, but it’s just another occupation.

  5. Ha! One thing I’ve learned being in the military is that consistency does not exist. Decisions change as often as leadership changes.

  6. Nope. No they don’t.
    Thankfully, the dreams of potential pro athletes, or the football programs in general, are not high priorities for service academies. There is no ambiguity around this issue. It could not be more clear. Their mission is to develop the leaders of the military that protects freedom around the world. That’s it. If that is not the priority of the athlete, they should not accept the million dollar education and training program and attend school elsewhere. That’s it. End of story.

  7. I don’t understand why it’s not a consistent policy but this isn’t a very big problem in the overall scheme of things. The other example noted prior to Kinley was back in 2019 so this only comes up once every couple years demonstrating that basically everybody headed for the pros is already choosing other schools for this very reason.

  8. Make it consistent. Every cadet has to fulfill his commitment whether they are computer geek or a jock. Don’t make exceptions just because you like something better.

  9. fivechampionships says:
    June 11, 2021 at 12:13 pm
    Nope. No they don’t.
    Thankfully, the dreams of potential pro athletes, or the football programs in general, are not high priorities for service academies. There is no ambiguity around this issue. It could not be more clear. Their mission is to develop the leaders of the military that protects freedom around the world. That’s it.
    ____________

    If the academies sole mission is “to develop the leaders of the military” then why do they even have sports teams? Please describe how having sports teams contribute to that sole mission.

  10. collectordude says:
    June 11, 2021 at 11:59 am
    Cant honor your commitment, athletes?
    Then sign with another institution.
    ___________

    I love how people who could never qualify for the academies think that they know something about commitment.

  11. I agree 100%. I think the best recruiting tool is when millions of young men and women watch guys that went to military institutions play pro sports on TV. During the off-season, and even on some days off, these players can really make an impact doing recruiting commercials and visiting schools. The players that make it to the pros are guys that all these youngsters want to be like. But to watch the military pull the rug out from under them, and weaken the military at the same time by hurting recruiting, sends the complete wrong message to potential recruits. Football is one thing, but don’t mess with the military. If they have admirals that don’t understand recruiting, they need to be replaced. It becomes a national security issue when you hurt military recruiting.

  12. Roger Staubach did his service ( Navy ) !!! These kids are No better than he was …. Oh !!! BTW Did he not when a SB or 2 after Honoring his commitment to his Country ???? When you sign those papers during processing ,You know what your future is !!! Stand by it !!!!!

  13. gibson45 says:
    June 11, 2021 at 12:31 pm
    fivechampionships says:
    June 11, 2021 at 12:13 pm
    Nope. No they don’t.
    Thankfully, the dreams of potential pro athletes, or the football programs in general, are not high priorities for service academies. There is no ambiguity around this issue. It could not be more clear. Their mission is to develop the leaders of the military that protects freedom around the world. That’s it.
    ____________

    If the academies sole mission is “to develop the leaders of the military” then why do they even have sports teams? Please describe how having sports teams contribute to that sole mission.
    ————-
    It’s called learning TEAMWORK genius…

  14. imsomeguy says:
    June 11, 2021 at 1:24 pm
    gibson45 says:
    June 11, 2021 at 12:31 pm
    fivechampionships says:
    June 11, 2021 at 12:13 pm
    Nope. No they don’t.
    Thankfully, the dreams of potential pro athletes, or the football programs in general, are not high priorities for service academies. There is no ambiguity around this issue. It could not be more clear. Their mission is to develop the leaders of the military that protects freedom around the world. That’s it.
    ____________

    If the academies sole mission is “to develop the leaders of the military” then why do they even have sports teams? Please describe how having sports teams contribute to that sole mission.
    ————-
    It’s called learning TEAMWORK genius.
    __________________

    What about vast majority of cadets who do not play on the sports teams? If playing sports is vital to developing teamwork shouldn’t all of the cadets be required to play?

  15. Service academies need clear, consistent rules for potential pro athletes
    _________________________________________

    The rule is VERY CLEAR AND CONSISTENT, it says if you’re “DRAFTED” and this guy wasn’t, PERIOD END OF STORY!

  16. You should contact them all and see if they value your opinion as much as you value your own.

  17. A whole lot of commenters seem to think that these service academy guys are asking to get out of their military commitment. They are not. They are requesting for it to be deferred, not excused. Sure, the service doesn’t have to grant the request, but it’s not a good look when the Navy grants deferrals in 2016 and 2020, then denies one in 2021–a year when the three other kids requesting deferrals (from other service branches) were granted their requests.

    It’s not good for the academies’ recruitment to have to tell high school athletes that they have no idea whether they’ll be granted deferral after graduation. It will also discourage teams from drafting players out of the academies, which will further weaken the academies’ teams and ability to recruit.

    Keep in mind that football careers are generally pretty short. Chances are a deferred academy grad will still be a young man when he’s done with football and ready to serve full-time. On the flip side, if a guy isn’t granted a deferral, there will be no football for him, period.

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