Ban Sports Competition

     A major problem in the US military is a lack of cooperation among the armed services.  Some of this friction can be traced to the three service academies where four years of cult-like indoctrination into their branch of service results in lifelong inter-service rivalries. This is reinforced by direct competition at sporting events.  Annual football games are preceded by weeks of tribal chanting about the need to "Beat Navy", or Army or Air Force.  This rivalry is enhanced when the Commander-in-Chief awards the "Commander's Cup" to the service which "defeats" the others in football.

     This problem can be lessened if bold civilian leaders ban sports competition between the service academies.  This is simple change will provoke cult-like outrage among many senior officers.  Yes, the Army-Navy game is a tradition, but it is a bad tradition.  Yes, these games are televised, yet this broadcasts unhealthy inter-service competition to servicemen worldwide.  Yes, it will destroy old rivalries, yet that is the point.

     This will have no affect on sports programs as they will just play other teams.  It will have a major affect at the academies as the primal excitement and academic disruptions leading up to these inter-service clashes disappear.   It should be just as fun for West Point cadets to play football at Yale as at the Air Force Academy.   Another reason for this ban is that these games pose a serious security problem since a public event like the Army-Navy game is a highly vulnerable terrorist target.  Imagine an airplane crashing into thousands of uniformed cadets in the stands, or a car bomb exploding near the entrance packed with cadets.

     Banning sports competition between service academies does not require legislation nor funding.  In contrast, it will save money since the services fly most all their cadets and midshipmen to these ritual games.  In addition, dozens of Generals and Admirals fly to these games in military executive jets for "official business."  These games are disruptive as well.  There are numerous wartime accounts of frontline units unable to obtain support because rear area officers took the day off to listen to or watch the televised Army-Navy game.  War is serious business. College studies and future joint operations should not be hampered by college sports rivalries.

                                        Carlton Meyer