Dear professional athletes,

By on November 23, 2010

Statue of former Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Pat Tillman. Photo By: PR Photo

I love watching you play, compete and work at your craft. I enjoy the game in which you play, and I enjoy the strategies your sport has to offer. But, when you say things like “I’m a Soldier” or “This is War” I become a little irritated. I myself am a Veteran from the United States Army and I have a large group of friends that are either prior service or active duty and I will speak for them in this instance. You are not a “Soldier” and you are not at “WAR”. You are paid a great deal of money to play the sport at which you love and you play it at such a high level you are rewarded well. You have not been through the training, the hard work and the challenges to be called a “SOLDIER” we are proud of what we have accomplished and we are proud of what we learned. I don’t call myself a Football Player when I’m playing catch, and I don’t’ call myself a basketball player when I’m playing horse with my kids. I earned the title SOLDIER and until I die I will cherish that title. For you to compare what you do to going to War is like comparing a thumb wrestling match to Sword Fight. In the past I’ve heard athletes, like Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates, and Lebron James say things about how it was WAR or they were SOLDIERS and every time I hear I lose a little respect for the sport. Unless your name is PATRICK TILLMAN,  you are not a soldier that plays a sport. Running up and down a court or field is not the same a dodging a bullet or steering clear of roadside bomb. Dunking a Basketball is not the same as tossing a grenade and throwing a football is not the same a firing a weapon, to save your life. Soldiers are the ones that give you the chance to make millions playing a sport. Soldiers are the reason you can make your own decisions, so please do not insult us and use our name in way that makes you seem what you are doing is a life on the line, do or die matter. Until you say,

“ I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

You are not a Soldier. Until you actually have to worry about living through the night as bombs drop and missiles soar overhead you are not at War. Until you have to decide to squeeze a trigger or die, you are not War. So please keep those things in mind as you prepare for a game. While you lace up your shoes, Soldiers are lacing up Combat Boots, while you at practice going 50% a Soldier is in training giving it 140%, While you make the game changing play a Soldier is making a life changing decision. And while you get a parade in your Honor, a Soldier is marching towards freedoms and justice.


Joshua L. Ott III and Friends.

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