I concur with Hurricane comments about willingness to step forward (stick neck out ?) and challenge the way things are done. "Thats the way its always been done..." is not a good answer to anything. That said, I don't think the young Midshipman was challenging tradition to further his future warfighting specialty, but rather arguing the time could be better used for academics and sports and realistically, that means a little extra rack time. (What do you think happens when a Prade is cancelled due to weather ? I don't recall many Midshipmen using that time to go for a run or study a little more).Or maybe he'll also apply a willingness to challenge tradition in a professional forum to finding efficiencies in whatever his future warfighting specialty is
Military drill probably harkens back to the day when land battles were fought by ranks of soldiers blasting away at each other with smoothbore musket from 50 years away. I wouldn't have any problem with eliminating Prades if the extra time was in fact used to increase emphasis on modern warfighting and shiphandling skills--perhaps more time in YP's so we can avoid collisions at sea. That said, releasing the time to academics and sports simply turns USNA more into State U. (I will avoid my disgruntled old grad observations that USNA is already well down that path).
If we are going to drill and do Prades, USNA needs to do it right. There was a thread on this Forum a while back talking about this, and someone correctly pointed out that is a function of pride and professionalism when I readily conceded marching skills to West Point. If West Point can do it, we can do it better, if sufficient emphasis is applied. I think Hoops' story illustrates the point well..... it takes top down leadership to get it right. I would bet if you zoom in on the pictures comparing USNA and West Point march ons, it isn't the Plebes that are the problem.