Are our priorities straight?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Maplerock, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    USAFA ranks 98th out of 130 division one schools in football recruiting for 2016. We have offered at least 10 high school seniors scholarships to come and play football already.

    I know the thought process that football players make good leaders. So do scouts, kids that babysat, club leaders, dance marathon officers, etc.

    There are kids being offered prestigious appointments before they even apply. Before they seek nominations, before USAFA (and Army, Navy, etc) even truly know what kind of kids they are.

    I'm not saying they couldn't make it on their own without football, but I doubt all of them would.

    Should the entire class be selected on their own merits without athletic scholarships then hold tryouts for varsity sports? The teams may be less competitive, but is that why we selected those kids? To be football players or to be Air Force officers?

    FWIW, I love academy athletics. I just wonder if it is contrary to the mission. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Jbow1221

    Jbow1221 Member

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    I think the problem lies with sacrificing things for the sake of having a great football team. For example, have you ever seen a skinny lineman? The Air Force has standards and most of them probably don't meet them.
     
  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Jbow, I believe that those linebackers have to meet ht/wt requirements in the spring semester so there is a lot of weight loss going on after December. (This I remember from when son had a roommate on the FB team.)

    FWIW, my "blue chipped" sons still had to go to the try-outs and do their best.
     
  4. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    In this day and age, any of the service academies will never reach the level of the college football/basketball/baseball/etc. college power houses because of the academic requirements and the service requirements. Those talented, dedicated and developed athletes are usually looking to go pro, and thus any academy will be the bottom of the barrel for them. On top of this, many of the highly talented and developed athletes have focused on their sport as opposed to academics. It's not a matter of intelligence. It's a matter of prioritizing their time (study vs. train) and their end goal (go pro vs. serve in the military).

    How does one determine the difference between "lower high school grades" due to dedication to a sport vs. intellectual ability? This isn't just a football issue, it is an overall IC sports issue. We just are more aware of football due to the "revolve around football mentality" the academy has.
     
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  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    At the SA's, varsity athletes usually run the PRT/PFT test before or after their season starts, and are allowed to carry extra weight in season. Not just football, but heavyweight crew, basketball, etc. When I was o-rep for women's basketball, the 6' center typically played at 175-185, in order to hold her own under the bucket and have the body fat to play the whole game. She quickly dropped weight out of season. They must all meet standards before graduating. When I was on USNA staff, pretty much the Monday after Army-Navy, a dedicated coach had those big senior linesmen doing customized 3-a-days and eating at a special diet table for safe and effective bulk reduction. Many football players go Marine, and they don't want to lose their slot.
    As for D1 football and the questions raised by fencersmother, when we pull that thread we are gonna get a sweater...
     
  6. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    Doesn't look like USMA is sacrificing much.
     
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  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    1. USAFA and other academies DON'T give out scholarships.
    2. Athletes, whether football or any other sport, are cadets first with the goal or becoming commissioned officer and leaders. Sports 2nd. (Don't believe me, ask the athletes who have been benched because of grades, even though they are still NCAA eligible.)
    3. The academies look for the best "Well Rounded Cadet".
    4. 23% of cadets were in Boy/Girl Scouts; 66% were in the national honor society; 20% were class officers........... 87% had varsity sports letters (more than 95% played varsity sports)
    5. Every appointee, whether a potential D1 athlete or not, ALL had to meet the minimum academy standards, receive a nomination, pass the CFA/DODMRB, etc. Minimum standards are pretty moot, considering the average gpa coming in is 3.86 and the average act is 30.
    6. Because the academy is looking for WELL ROUNDED cadets, SOME will excel academically taking the hardest IB programs or all AP type classes and get a 4.0 in them. Some will excel in JrROTC and be a commander. Some will excel in scouts and be an eagle scout. So why are you prejudice against a cadet who happened to excel in athletics.
    7. NO ONE WAS OFFERED AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE APPLYING OR RECEIVING A NOMINATION.

    And without getting into a P*$$ing contest; I can easily name 50 cadets/graduates who were not only recruited athletes, but also had better overall applications than the vast majority of applicants. Recruited athletes who also had 3.8-4.0 gpa's in the most difficult classes. Were in the IB program. Were class officers. Did boy/girl's state. Who were the top-10 (Not 10%, but TOP 10) in their school. I can also list quite a few academy grads who played D1 IC sports at the academy, and went on to be great officers. Pilots, doctors, lawyers. Yes, I can name quite a few that attended or are currently attending grad school out of the academy. I know a 4 year starter front lineman on the football time who is at AFIT Grad school who was an Engineering major. I know of a water polo player that went to medical school. Do a quick search, and you'll find plenty of articles of academy athletes who graduate and go on to numerous grad schools, pilot training, etc.

    There's one player on the football team class of 2019, who had an article about him and how he turned down an Ivy League school to come to air force. He had a 4.0 gpa and 32ACT and had offers to go to school at Cornell, Brown and Yale.

    So, to answer your original question......... YES....... our priorities are fine. When there are 12,000 people initially applying to the academy; and only about 1,200 will make it, I guarantee you that there's going to be some that don't receive an appointment, that feel they were a better applicant than someone who did receive an appointment. It's not just sports either. Because federal law mandates that each state and district are also equally represented, there's going to be a kid appointed from the MOC slate in North Dakota or Florida or has LOWER SCORES than someone who didn't receive an appointment from Kansas. So yes, there will be some athletes that receive an appointment, that some will argue aren't as good of a candidate as someone who didn't receive an appointment. The same could be said for a minority who may receive an appointment. The same could be said about any appointee.

    But let me remind you again, the academy is looking for diversity. And that diversity comes in all shapes and sizes. It's not just race, color, or gender. It's the rich and poor kid. The urban and the farm kid. The single parent and traditional family. The uber braniac and the science nerd and jock. Unfortunately for some.... they are prejudice. They think that "SOME" attributes that a person excels in, is MORE IMPORTANT than others. And some have a difficult time realizing that just because a person is an athlete, doesn't mean they can't also excel in academics and other areas.

    So, I guess I throw the question back, what's the difference between the person who excelled in music, scouts, cap, JrROTC, etc. and the person who happened to excel in sports? Is there a bit more attention given to those who are also athletes? Hell yea. Why? Because there are so very few of them. In a normal college, you can recruit a 5-star football or basketball player who has a 2.0 gpa and a 17 ACT. The academy won't take those. Even if they were the #1 athlete rated in the country. I've personally seen highly RECRUITED athletes for the air force academy TURNED DOWN and not given an appointment. Now, finally find a student who excels in athletics, ISN'T 350 lbs, can PASS the CFA and DODMRB, has a GPA/ACT/SAT score that shows they WILL PASS AND GRADUATE THE ACADEMY AND BECOME AN OFFICER; (Like I said, that IS THE #1 PRIORITY)' and find this individual who isn't signing to another school. Like I said, having a kid with all those qualities, and turns down Cornel and Yale for the air force academy, is even rarer.

    Sorry for writing a book, but I've seen this topic come up way too many times. Are there the occasional athlete that doesn't or can't make it at the academy, and probably shouldn't have ever been offered an appointment? Yes. But guess what? There's PLENTY of appointees, other than student athletes, who also probably should never have been given an appointment. The academy isn't perfect. But when I see this topic come up, and I think of the stereotype "DUMB JOCK", and that some think that most of the academy athletes wouldn't be at the academy if it wasn't for sports..... that sort of p*$$es me off. I think of Fencermother's TWIN BOYS who both made it to academy. Both were tops in their high school class; but they ALSO were athletes. I told my son that I was so happy that he had a Presidential Nomination. WHY??? Because he received his APPOINTMENT EARLY; First of November. Why is that important? Because then, when he got recruited to also play football at the academy, he could say he ALREADY RECEIVED his appointment, without the stereotype of sports being involved. And for what it's worth, he was #1 in his high school graduation class. 4.0gpa unweighted, IB program, etc. He also graduated the academy at the top and just finished his PhD. So let's not be prejudice. Excelling in sports is NO LESS IMPRESSIVE (At the Inter-Collegiate Level) than excelling in Music, CAP, JrROTC, Scouts, Mathletes, etc. And just because a person is an athlete, doesn't mean they're less academically. The vast majority of athletes at the academy made it in on their own merit and their own application. If anything, sports/athletics made them that much more of a well rounded applicant.
     
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  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    P.S. In the air force, there is a 3:1 ratio of officers to enlisted. When you take out the OFFICER ONLY job, such as pilots and missile officers, where they don't directly lead enlisted, the ratio is around 10:1.

    And the enlisted corp is as diverse as our country is as a whole. Every walk of life. I want the same thing from our officer corp. I want diversity in every aspect. It makes the entire military better. I don't want an academy where every cadet coming in is the 4.0 gpa and 32 ACT #1 student. I want the band members; the JrROTC, the Scout, the FBLA member, the 4H member, the city kid, the farm kid, the black kid, the white kid, the spanish club, and the Jock. And if it means that appointments need to shifted around some to get all that diversity and not have a bunch of "Ivy League" type academic students; then I am all for it.
     
  9. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    Sorry to touch a nerve CC.
    We shall agree on some points and differ on others.
    #2 is partially true.
    #7 rings false. There are offers out to kids right now that have been asked to apply. The academy probably has checked to see if they would meet minimums before offering.

    And there are prep school kids being offered with stats that would have gotten them an immediate rejection if they weren't standout athletes.

    And, oh yes, you do not need to remind me that they are looking for diversity. The football team looks harder for it than anybody.

    My post was food for thought. Is it fair?
    Obviously you feel yes.
     
  10. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

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    This topic comes up again and again. I think I have decided on my final take away from this type of discussion. Pull up the football roster from any service academy. Then pull up the dean’s/supe’s list from said service academy. Compare the lists. Repeat this exercise for any sport you wish at any SA.

    Then do this for any other NCAA D-1 school. I think, on the whole, you will find that SAs are doing OK in this arena.
     
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  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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  12. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    What is interesting is how no one really discusses this issue in regards to other IC sports and never any female IC sports. It is always in connection to football. I think most IC sports participants should be there. I think that most IC recruited athletes are a good fit for the academy and will make excellent officers along with their non recruited fellow cadets. I think there is such an awareness of recruited IC football players because the USAFA is all about the football. The other sports are a footnote in terms of publicity only if and when a particular athlete accomplishes something noteworthy (mountain west champion, breaking an academy time record, named mountain west athlete of the week etc..). As a result of the USAFA led focus on football, people are far more aware of what goes on with the football team.

    Parents seem to buy into this whole culture of football as well. At the last football home game, 200 cadets were selected to watch and cheer on the swim meet. Frankly, I think this is a good thing. However, lets look at the press and football fan reaction. "Oh no, look at how small the cadet section is." "Where are they? They should be here." "Where is the team spirit?" "What do you mean they are watching a swim meet? This is on TV. This is football." "How could anyone choose to watch a swim meet over a football game?" Anyone remember the last time the press covered a water polo match, gymnastics meet, wrestling or shooting competition and waxed on about the lack of audience and team spirit?

    The problem with number seven on Christcorp's list
    When taken literally, this is true. No one gets the BFE before applying or receiving a nomination. However, how it works is more like this.
    "Hey, you are a good athlete, and I really want you for my team. What are your stats, send them too me. Great, they meet the minimum, so make sure you fill out the forms cause I really want you here and we need you. Fill out the nomination stuff and don't sweat it. There is a lot of out reach that goes on." or "Hmmmm, your are a little deficient in this academic area, don't sweat it. You are too late to apply for a nomination, don't sweat it. We have a prep school that you would be a good fit for. What do you think about that?"

    Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Some great athletes do sacrifice study time in order to travel around the nation and state to compete, in order to train and develop to the highest level possible, etc. etc. etc.. Thus they are at the academic minimums to enter and have demonstrated the ability to dedicate and develop themselves to their full athletic potential.

    As Christcorp points out, it comes down to a question of fairness and how one defines and weighs the "characteristics" necessary for a successful and dynamic Air Force. Is a brainiac worth more than the star athlete? If the brainiac has poor inter personal skills and doesn't work well with groups, then probably not. If the soccer player can set up successful scoring plays every time but can't master complex ideas, then probably not.

    I think people can get hung up on the "unfairness" of a recruited athlete because often times "success" in athletics is a matter of genetic heritage and opportunity/money and not a matter of dedication and love for the sport. Though one can also argue that stellar academic performance is also a matter of genetic heritage and opportunity/money. If you don't live in an area with a strong academic public school system and lack the finances to move or send your kids to a strong private school, then your kids ACT and SAT may not be stellar. If your kid didn't inherit the right "IQ" genes, then they won't be able to do well on the ACT and SAT. Then there are kids who are great standardized test takers and those who aren't but do really well in their academics. Does it mean one is of less value than the other? Is one less intelligent than the other, or did one just get the right "gene" which enables them to do better on a standardized test?

    Up until the year my son applied, the USAFA did not have an early action/notification process. They did recruit athletes, but one did not hear about recruiting "brainiacs." Though the first implementation was a bit of a mess, it did start to establish the message that the USAFA recruits "brainiacs." In my opinion, I think the USAFA was late to the game in sending this message.

    Do I think the envelope has been pushed a time or 2 when recruiting athletes? Yes, I do. It happens. Just as I am sure there are some blinders when it comes to kids of powerful well connected parents. Everyone involved is human, and sometimes the best person for the job with the proper priorities isn't in charge. The problem the academy has is that the "special exceptions" are more obvious when it comes to football because of the USAFA culture and publicity surrounding that sport.
     
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  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    There is nothing to misunderstand about #7. No one has been offered an appointment without having applied and received a nomination. Even when the Air Force has given LOA's to recruited athletes, they have their application in and have started the process.

    Caveat. The army at West Point does offer LOA's sometimes before that applicant has even started the application. But the Air Force doesn't. And they most definitely have never given an appointment as such.

    And I will say again, I and many other ALO's have seen plenty of times where an athlete with an LOA did NOT receive an appointment OR an offer for the prep school. Their gpa or test scores were too low. Also for other reasons.

    And yes, there are recruited athletes for many other sports besides football and basketball. 25 other sports to be exact. And maybe because football and basketball are the only real revenue generating sports, that some may believe the standards are lower for them. The truth is, the overwhelming majority of appointees go so far above the minimum standards, that the minimums seem quite low. But every appointee, whether direct or via the prep school; and whether athlete, minority, majority, and everyone in between, ALL at least met the minimum standards. Most surpass the standards. Even the stereotyped "dumb jocks". And the majority of the 50-60 football players coming in who are called "recruited athletes" are called so in name only. The majority had to compete with everyone else applying. And while some may have been given some extra consideration, so have many non-athletes.

    The point is, based on the original post, that the academy does a pretty good job at balancing the incoming class on diversity. And that diversity does include athletics. Again, more than 90% of appointees did athletics. And argue if you want, the traits of an athlete, are very much in line with the traits the military is looking for in their future leaders. Much more in line than with MOST other activities that applicants are involved in.
     
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  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    And here is some info, posted quite a while ago by another forum member. It is a list, by the NCAA, that they presented to Universities on why they believe athletics is so important. Not just for revenue purposes, but in individual development; both as a student, and as a employee and citizen. I think just about every one of these traits are things the academies and military are looking for in an individual and future leader. Not to say that other activities can't and don't demonstrate and/most/all of these traits. Simply pointing out that one activity, done right, has so many benefits to the individual, the academies, and the military.

    FWIW: This is also posted in the Sticky at the top of the forum, on WHY Athletics is so important.

    "What does athletics teach individuals:
    Attention to detail , Awareness of diversity, Challenging yourself , Commitment, Communication, Competition , Confidence , Cooperation , Coordination , Decision making , Dedication, Determination , Diligence, Discipline, Endurance, Fitness, Flexibility, Focus, Following plans/directions, Give/take feedback and criticism, Goal-directed, Improvement, Integrity, Individual/group effort, Keeping records, Leadership, Learning from failure, Management, Multitasking, Organization, Overcome obstacles, Pain/fatigue management, Patience,Performance, Persistence, Positive attitude, Prioritizing, Problem solving,Punctuality, Pursuit of excellence, Respect, Responsibility, Scheduling, Self-directed, Self-esteem, Set goals, Strategies, Stress management, Supervision, Tactics (offense/defense), Teaching, Teamwork , Thinking on your feet, Time management, Training motivation, Work ethic."
     
  15. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    Again, I don't think anyone has suggested that the official appointment was made without all the academic minimums met and nomination given. And let's not forget, the academic minimum is far lower than the incoming academic average.

    The issue here is the perception of prevalent favoritism to IC athletes, specifically football. The perception that some skate into the academy with just the academic minimums because they are good at the only sport that matters, football.

    Frankly, this perception is rather insulting to IC athletes, implying that they are all brawn and no brains. I don't think any of the IC athletes or their parents appreciate this perception as it belittles the IC athletes' academic and intellectual efforts and achievements. It is frustrating to have to deal with a stereotype.

    How does the academy go about changing this perception? This perception isn't just held by posters here. I can assure you that there are many people outside the active participants of this forum who buy into this perception. Maybe there is nothing the academy can do. Maybe the whole "football is the favored child" is a larger social issue that goes beyond the academy and thus out of their control. Maybe a change in news feed coverage with emphasizing the other sports outside of the notice of one time achievement (breaking an academy record, mountain west player of the week, etc. etc. etc..) might help. Maybe note the IC sport on the honor role list where applicable?

    Do you think there is anything the academy can do to reduce the prevalence of this perception? Or is it one of those "nature of the beast" type things?
     
  16. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    That one should have left a mark. Not enough WP folks here, I guess.:)
     
  17. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    "Perception" is only reality or truth, until other facts are presented. Then, the perception can change. Hence, why this forum exists. To present facts.
     
  18. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Alex, this is the USAFA forum, after all
     
  19. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    Alex, it is Army week too...AIR POWER!

    :tomcat:
     
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  20. OtB

    OtB Dont Tread On Me & No step on snake either!

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    WBY - Please correct me if I am mistaken, is that a Navy F-14? AF weak, Army weak, Navy strong!
     
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