BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
Sports, for many, is an opportunity to get away from their own world.
That opportunity may only come for 30 minutes a day or even a couple of hours a week, but for those in the military, it’s the only escape they have from an otherwise rough way of living.
For many active duty military personnel, this “get away” time can be reserved for a quick pick-up game on a naval ship Р where out of bounds is the edge of the runway and the game sometimes has to end when an errant pass means the ball is ocean property Р or a football game being played in the desert with nothing but a roll of toilet paper.
I’ve even seen one-pitch softball games where only one bat was available and fielders had to play without gloves.
When I was younger, bowling served as the “get away” time for my dad, which pretty much spilled into the family as the years passed.
I still remember my sister and I going to a movie on bowling night. The two of us would head over to the lone theatre on the Army base there, watch whatever was playing that was “appropriate” for us during that time, then head back to the bowling alley in near pitch-black conditions.
Once we got there we snacked on food until my mom and dad were done, then headed home and went about our daily routines.
He had a lot of fun bowling. The group he bowled with was a fun bunch, and it was one of the few times during the week when I could see a smile come across his face.
College football is another one of those outlets for many of today’s soon-to-be military personnel. For members of West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy, football is second to everything else.
Success on the field pales in comparison to the success they have to have once they put on the military uniform for active duty.
Win or lose, those games are the only escape those student-athletes have, as their daily routines are scripted nearly from sun up to sun down.
Even practice must seem easy to them at times.
I like watching the service academies play football for several reasons. There’s a deeper appreciation for the players when they succeed, and it feels a bit heart-wrenching when they struggle.
However, once people realize just how much they go through on a daily basis, you would become a fan too.
Another story that recently surfaced was one done by ESPN employee and columnist Rick Reilly, who did a story on a former military member Tehuti Miles, who earned a walk-on spot at the University of Maryland’s football team.
If you haven’t read it, I urge people to Google his name and click on the first link you find. His story is unlike any other.
Veteran’s Day, which occurred Monday, will forever serve as both a holiday and as a day to remember those who not only have served, but will serve in either of the five branches of the military (Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard, for those who need to know).
To my dad and my brother-in-law, I say thank you. To those who will serve soon, I also send my thanks.
As far as college football is concerned: go Army, beat Navy.