February 12, 2024

Sports and the Military

A bit of compare and contrast highlights why DEI is so destructive.

The largest U.S. sports attract 200+ million fans, generating roughly $83 billion in revenue. It’s fair to say that sports are wildly popular and a big part of American culture. In contrast, only 3% of Americans say foreign policy (including the military) is a top priority. Only 0.7% of the population are currently serving in the military, and only 7% have served in their lifetimes. It appears the defense of America and the military in general generate scant interest for most people. Considering the threats worldwide, this is perplexing. The few carry the burden of military service for the many — so they can enjoy their sports and other pursuits.

What makes one successful in sports? Individuals with innate talent train to become experts. The best move on to the highest levels, and they consistently win. Athletic merit is supreme. Success in sports comes down to a combination of innate athletic talents and the investment of practice time and effort to become great. How much one practices to develop innate potential is up to the individual. No one can do it for you. Those who rise to the top make extreme efforts to develop their God-given potential. They merit their success because they work for it.

Sports is the quintessential test of merit. Societies around the world attach immense importance to sports and to winners, who can become fabulously wealthy, renowned, and even influential in things beyond their sport. Athletic icons are elevated onto a high pedestal and showered with honor and riches. The very best of the best are memorialized in a Hall of Fame where their memory will be known and celebrated throughout history. Sports are at once trivial — the playing of games with no intrinsic value — and important. It is important for cultures to have heroes and entertainment in the form of sports to enrich life. Following a given athlete or team is enjoyable and provides relaxation away from life’s challenges. Sports are a blessing and benefit to all of society for the joy they can bring, the rewards for the few who are good enough to make a living in their sport, and the whole industry with millions of people who make their living from sports. Signal events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, and the World Cup uplift society. The world is a better place because of sports.

In the decades I have followed sports, I have rarely heard any call for diversity, equity, or inclusion on the playing field. After the color barrier was eradicated during the Civil Rights era, the floodgates were opened and merit reigned. Athletes and teams with the best skills win. Some have called for coaches to be more diverse. In a recent football press conference, a reporter asked the black coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if there should be more black coaches. His reply was that it was irrelevant and that he would rather talk about football.

What is the priority for today’s military, the sole institution with the responsibility for keeping us safe from enemies? Is it skills, qualifications, bravery, teamwork, or talent — in other words, aspects of merit? No, the constant drumbeat now is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Does that help you sleep at night?

The president pointedly selected his secretary of defense based on his being black and did the same for the new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. The new CNO was selected because she was female. The service academies use racial quotas to decide appointments. Blacks and Hispanics are admitted based on their skin color or ethnicity, even if their test scores and grade point averages are lower than whites or Asians. The services stress DEI up and down the chain of command. Merit has been shuffled aside in favor of the politics of DEI. The quality of the military is being sacrificed to satisfy a political agenda.

It takes rare talents, hard work, and motivation to become the best in sports. The same is true for the military. It takes intelligence, toughness, teamwork, unity, dedication, and cohesion to function effectively in any of our military services. It also takes a desire to serve. That DEI is driving people out of the military and discouraging young people from serving is without question. The evidence is overwhelming. By admitting the less qualified over the more qualified, we are diluting the overall quality of the military, putting lives at risk, and increasing the possibility of losing in war.

Sports evolved from war as a means for man to peacefully strive for victory. Sport is a peaceful, vicarious metaphor for war. Sport, an essentially trivial thing, demands merit. That our leaders choose to elevate superficial characteristics such as skin color and ethnicity over merit for military service, promotions, and command selection is not only illegal and morally wrong but dangerous as well. Nothing is more critical to the defense of the nation than merit. Our very lives depend on it!

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