Up the Academies! Get the Ladies on the Gridiron

As the college football season heats up, it’s time for our military academies to take an important step forward into the 21st century.

Since the Obama-era gender integration of combat arms personnel, our military has worked hard to make sure women are represented among the fighting me . . . er, troops. The service academies are way ahead of this move, having  been gender-integrated since 1975. Even so, this year will witness the perpetuation of an ongoing injustice: the prestigious and publicly funded United States Army, Navy, and Air Force academies, will once more and distressingly field all-male football teams.

It’s hard to imagine why. After all, as General Douglas MacArthur declared, “the closest thing to war in time of peace, is football.”

Superior football performance, then, mandates the inclusion of women on our military academy football teams. Surely this would be at least as beneficial to the performance of a football team as it is to a Ranger battalion!

A few Neanderthals certainly might object, suggesting that physical differences remain a barrier to coed performance in the sport—as if a ruck march or a firefight were less physically demanding than a football game! It’s true that women tend to be somewhat physically smaller, but if this makes no difference when hauling a 120 mm mortar into firing position, with lives at stake, it should make no difference when trying to move a leather ball towards a goal line.

Beside, we know from the movies, that a 40- or 50-pound weight advantage in any physical conflict is cancelled out, if the lighter combatant is female. This should work as well on the football field as it does in hand-to-hand combat.

Statistics do strongly suggest that training injuries will be more frequent with the inclusion of women on the teams, as they are in other strenuous military training environments. However, our military has determined that this is a sacrifice well worth enduring in the case of the combat troops. The same logic surely ought to apply to mere football.

Personally, I’d hope that just one academy, not all four, would take this pioneering step—for the first season, at least. Imagine an Army-Navy game riveting the attention of the services, as it does every year, with the additional excitement of seeing one all-male football team take the field—while the other team features, not some token female kicker or even carefully protected quarterback, but numerous offensive and defensive linemen (sorry, “linepeople”) unencumbered by Y-chromosomes! What a laughingstock the all-male team would be, in the resulting blowout.

There’d be no suspense about that outcome. The predictable triumph of the coed team could almost be celebrated in advance. Capturing the coveted Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy (awarded to the team which prevails in interservice games among the Army, Navy and Air Force academies) would also be a foregone conclusion. Think of how quickly the triumphs of a mixed-gender team over their opponents, would inspire the other academies to change their own policies! (And how this would shame any civilian colleges which might lag behind. Just think of the outcome of the annual Navy-Notre Dame game in that case!)

If, on the other hand, the academies insist on keeping their football teams all-male, and advancing weak rationales regarding athletic performance to justify the policy, it’s going to seem to the fans that they just don’t take football seriously enough. Surely their football teams should be given the same advantages which they envision mixed-gender infantry squads will have.

And there must be some very serious advantages to that arrangement. After all, we do care much more about having the best combat units possible, than about having good college football teams.

Don’t we?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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