Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Army Changes Its Mind: Caleb Campbell

We all change our minds. Just ask Brett Favre. Sometimes changing one’s mind is not a big deal. You know, like when you decide to have salad instead of rice. Other times, a change of heart can be more serious. For example, you decide you really don’t want have children. Unfortunately for Caleb Campbell, someone else changed their mind and his life will be on a totally different track now.

Campbell was that remarkable story during this year’s NFL draft. He played his college ball for Army on the defense. On the last day of the draft, his story was profiled and he was interviewed during the live show. For the first time the entire weekend, fans in the crowd cheered together for one thing. They cheered for the military guy who had a shot in the NFL. You see, if he was drafted by an NFL team he could forgo active duty. The Army would consider him an ambassador of sorts for PR and other image-boosting purposes. He would still have recruiting and other duties with the military. That has all changed. A change in policy means that he will not be able to play in the NFL and must report for active duty.

I bet he feels like he was punched in the gut. Imagine having your course in life determined by this event. Here he worked to settle in to his new life that he believed was his for the last few months. He thought he was off to the high life of the high-paying NFL. Guess what? Just kidding, he has to serve. It seems like a cruel joke.

His story brought out a lot of emotion when it happened. There were those who thought that if he went to play in the NFL that we was not a leader, that he was basically a traitor, or that he should pay back his educational costs to the Army. Others were happy for him and believed he worked hard and could set an example for young people. Both sides were very passionate about the situation and some forums even became a heated political battle between commenters.

However you feel about Caleb Campbell, his decisions, and the Army; it’s disappointing for someone to have a dream come true that only very few get to experience only to have it taken away a short time later.

What do you think? Is this what he deserves? Should he be allowed to play in the NFL?


Lindsay said...

I feel terrible that he is not able to play in the NFL. Plus, that "change" was probably made particularly for this one individual. I hate that he has to give up his dream.

That being said, why should the rules be different for an athlete. If he'd suddenly gotten a great offer to go become CEO of a company, he would still be expected to serve.

Anyway, I know I don't know all the rules that go along with serving in the Army and what you agree to when you sign up, so I probably shouldn't even be stating my opinions. Still, the whole thing is disapointing.

Apryl DeLancey said...

It's a tough case - there are other athletes that are affected by this exemption but I believe they are all minor league baseball players. Caleb's story brought attention to the rule. You've got a great point with the CEO example as well.