The Sports-Service Synergy

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428px-USMC_Color_GuardI’m not sure what strings Tostitos and the BCS pulled to make their halftime show happen, but I will readily admit-and MOTHAX can make fun all he wants but I know he cries like a baby at the drop of a hat-I got a little misty eyed at the returning soldiers surprising their families. Maybe it’s because it touched on a fundamental linkage between sports and service members. Okay, there’s a lot of other stuff going on this week, and I have no real desire to weigh in heavily on that-I’d rather leave that to what it is and let it speak to itself. Call this the equivalent of puff journalism-that waterskiing squirrel bit at the end of the nightly news to take the edge off all the depressing stuff you’ve watched for the previous half hour. I am that waterskiing squirrel this week. First of all, I loved my time in the military. Secondly, I love football. I really love football. When I stopped to think about it, I realized how closely intertwined sports and military memories were intertwined. I’m not just talking about how a speech about the Super Bowl became a defining rallying point for MOTHAX’s an my Company when we deployed overseas, nor am I merely reflecting on the disproportionate number of New England expatriates (should that be ex-Patriots?) deployed with us in 2004 who were convinced the only reason the Red Sox would win the World Series and break the curse that year was because God and the Army had conspired to send them out of the country to the land of Afghanistan where they could never watch and appreciate the feat that would of course never happen again for 100 years. Those are personal memories; I’m talking about something infused into the culture. How much is emotionally invested in the annual Army-Navy game (which, apparently, my Black Knights have decided to take a decade long hiatus from)? How much does it mean to a deployed service member to see ANY sports from back home? It’s a touchstone, a reminder that the world continues to turn outside this bit of isolation and crazy land you’re temporarily stuck in. I know from my friends who spend long years stationed in Europe that getting to see American sports from back home helped maintain that connection. Units even PT with sports when they can get away with it and command doesn’t freak out that we’ll injure ourselves. How many great games of combat football, combat soccer, and so forth did you play? Wasn’t that a much better workout than a bunch of pushups and scissor kicks? And you built teamwork skills and enhanced esprit de corps. That’s part of the fundamental synergy I think, sports and service both thrive on, indeed could not exist without, coordinated teamwork. While sports still singles out individual achievement to a greater degree both reward the same qualities-hard work, tireless preparation, sacrifice of individual comfort for the betterment of the entire group. The sporting world has certainly done their share to recognize the importance of the military and the sacrifices they make as well. Professional athletes make frequent morale trips to support the troops serving overseas (even fake sports like the WWE get in on this act). Service members are honored at countless sporting events by the host stadiums. There are many programs in place to get free tickets to our wounded service members recovering from injuries. Since 9-11, I don’t think I’ve seen a single sports broadcast where the announcers didn’t take time to fawn and gush over the brave men and women serving overseas, and they honestly seem genuinely appreciative of those sacrifices. I was happy last night because it was a moment that all of that caught up with me and I was proud to have served and that my favorite pastime was always sending me reminders of that service. Am I alone on this, or do others who served have the same fond recollections of how sports and service intersected?
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My husband is a WW2 vet and served in the south Pacific when the "bombs" were dropped. He along with the rest of our fine vets has been told that we (the US) murdered the Japanese people. These ignorant ill informed people have no idea what that war was about and how many lives both American and foreign were saved by ending the war. If these politically correct idiots had any idea what the cost of their freedom or speech and freedom of the press actually cost vets and their families perhaps things would change. However,
I think that it is better press the spew hate of the military than look for the greater good. My urge to purge when I read articles and hear hate speech from the left radio and TV personalities makes me pause and realize that their ignorance is being protected too by the very people that they are trying to spear. God alone knows the price our brave men and women have and are paying for freedom. If the armed forces ever get weary of hearing this kind of assault on them, what is next? I just don't see the "left" out there on the battle field taking their turn to protect our rights. Keep up the good work. We need more people ready to stand and be counted.

The singing of our National Anthem by Christina Aguilera at the Super Bowl was equally offensive. All vocalist at public events should BE REQUIRED to sing our National Songs with the appropriate reverence.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.