For most of the first two decades of my life, I had the experience of most young American men, I played sports. Lots of sports. At one point or another, at varying degrees of mediocrity and length, I had the usual mix of football, baseball, wrestling, and basketball on an official level, and a smattering of other recreational ones as well.
I am a believer in the multi-faceted value of sports on the young mind and body, especially the mind. Team sports especially, I find them instrumental in learning many life lessons and better understanding your ability to control your mind and body, and learn to work with others under stress and emotion.
There is a dark side to sports, and the problem isn’t mostly with the players – it is with those in the stands. The weekend tailgater or ESPN addict isn’t per-se the issue, that is mostly social and from a love of the game.
I wasn’t by any stretch an athlete growing up (thought I did letter three straight years) but other than that, I align myself wholly with CDR Salamander on the toxic effects of a D1 athletic program at the service academies.
I do believe team sports and individual sports build character and are good elements of any service academy. But D1 sports, especially the football program, corrodes the integrity of the academy experience, and not only warps the morality of the school, but the recruitment of prospective officers for those services.