Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Looking back, sports prepared me for flying fighters more than anything else. You develop thick skin playing sports—you learn how to lose, how to accept criticism, how to prepare, how to handle pressure; you grow you in a way that’s difficult to find outside of sports. Different sports teach different attributes, particularly team versus individual ones, but they all have parallels to what we do in the air.

Team sports, as the name implies, teach teamwork—you learn how to work together to build trust. As a group, you must come together to accomplish a shared vision; often with people who come from completely different backgrounds. It is a complex, messy process that doesn’t have a set formula. I played baseball, all the way from t-ball throughout high school and each year we would try to build a cohesive, effective team—failing as often as we succeeded. It was practice though. By the time I got to my first fighter squadron, I had been a part of probably 30 teams. It was easier to integrate, find my role, and start contributing than if I hadn’t had my sports background.

fighter pilot
You may be alone in the cockpit, but teamwork is still essential.

Another attribute I learned is situational leadership. As my skill and experience grew relative to the team I was on, my leadership style had to change. As a freshman in high school and one of the weaker players, my job was to shut up, work hard, and do the jobs the other players didn’t want to do. By the time I was a senior, I was one of the better players and a captain on the team. Part of my job was to hold people accountable, which meant being more assertive.

As a fighter pilot, after you spend four years becoming an officer, two years in pilot training, and a year learning to fly your fighter, you’ll show up to your first squadron and your primary job will be to stock the snack bar. Just like the new freshman on a sports team, the best thing you can do is shut up, learn your job, and volunteer for the tasks no-one else wants to do. As your skill and experience grow relative to the other pilots, your leadership style will have to evolve. 

Preparation is another trait I learned. Similar to being a fighter pilot, in sports the vast majority of your time is spent training. While boxing at the Air Force Academy, we would spend hours each day preparing for a six-minute fight. The training, in most cases, lagged the results, often by months. If you didn’t wake up at 5AM for your daily morning run, no-one would know until fight day when you were exhausted by the time you got to the third round.

fighter pilot
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

Flying fighters is similar. We train for years before we go into combat. As a multi-role, single seat fighter pilot, there is always something you could be better at. The learning never stops. We have thousands of pages of tactics to memorize and with closure rates averaging a mile every three-seconds, it has to be instinctive by the time you get to combat. 

The most important attribute sports taught me was mental toughness—how to thrive in a high pressure environment. As a boxer you’re in the ring alone. No-one else can help you. If you’re distracted and having a bad day, you can get hurt. Leading up to the fight, you know there is an opponent working his hardest to knock you out in front of your friends and family.

At the Air Force Academy, we would have sports psychologists from the Olympic training center make the 15 minute drive to work with us. They taught us visualization, positive self-talk, and how to stay in the present moment. While the stakes are much higher now—we not only have our own lives to worry about, but our wingmen, other airborne assets, and the troops on the ground—I still find myself using what they taught me on a daily basis.

Sports are a training ground for your mind and body. They allow you to grow in a simplistic environment, under pressure, with short feedback cycles. You learn that through deliberate practice you will improve. Having had a chance to instruct many F-16 and F-35 pilots, the better ones usually have a sports background. It doesn’t matter if they were a star, or if they only played in high school—the important thing is they have the tools to get better each flight while contributing to the squadron. 

Make sure to check out Justin Lee’s podcast, The Professionals Playbook!

Feature image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

popular

4 awesome traditions to look for at the Army-Navy Game

Along with more than 100 years of history, the game comes steeped in traditions that range from the usual smack talk between fans to events that can only be found when Army plays Navy.


Almost all American sporting events feature the National Anthem, many games get a U.S. military flyover, and every sports rivalry is characterized by fans going above and beyond to demonstrate their team spirit. The Army-Navy Game has all of those, except this game gets a flyover from two service branches and fans in attendance willing to break strict uniform regulations to show their spirit.

Along with the traditions typical of every other sporting event, the Army-Navy Game comes with the added traditions of two military academies that are older than the sport they’re playing, of military branches whose own traditions date back to the founding of the United States, and a unique culture developed through the history of American military training.

And despite the intense rivalry, it’s all in good fun.

1. The Prisoner Exchange

Before the game kicks off, seven West Point cadets and seven Annapolis midshipmen will march to midfield in Philadelphia to be returned to their home military academies. These “prisoners” were sent to their rival service academies in the Service Academy Exchange Program, which sends students from each of four service academies (along with West Point and Annapolis, the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy also participate) for the fall semester.

The prestigious, competitive exchange program began its semester-long life in 1975 and has remained the same ever since. Each academy sends seven sophomore students to the other academies. The “Prisoner Exchange” allows the visiting cadets and mids to sit with their team’s fans.

2. The Army-Navy Drumline Battle

At the Army-Navy Game, there’s more confrontation than just what happens on the football field. Before the game, the bands representing each branch engage in a drumline – one as much about showmanship as it is about skills with the sticks.

3. “The March On”

Before the kickoff of every Army-Navy Game, the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy and the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy take the field. No, not just the teams playing the game that day, the entire student body — thousands of people — march on the field in the way only drilled and trained U.S. troops can.

4. “Honoring the Fallen”

Every Army-Navy Game is going to see one loser and one winner. No matter what the outcome of the game, the players sing both teams’ alma maters. The winners will join the losing team, facing the losing side’s fans. Then, the two groups will do the same for the winning team. It’s a simple act of respectful sportsmanship that reminds everyone they’re on the same side.

To date, this tradition hasn’t caught on across college teams, but it might be happening as we speak. The Navy team invites every school it plays to sing “Navy Blue and Gold” after the game, and sometimes they do, like in 2014, when the Ohio State Buckeyes joined in.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Team River Runner gets veterans out on the water

Terry Hunt, a blind veteran who receives health care at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center (HCC), mentioned several years ago that he wished he could participate in water sports.

Around the same time, Terri Everett, a Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist at the HCC, became a chapter coordinator for the national kayaking organization Team River Runner.

Team River Runner helps veterans and their families find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports. It is funded through VA grants.


All Hunt needed to say was, “Let’s get on the water!” and Everett was ready to go. Shortly after they connected, Hunt began regular kayaking with the Triad Chapter of Team River Runner. He has been doing so for the past five years. Everett or other volunteers guide him on the water.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(Photo by Nil Castellví)

Guides use voice commands and music

Guides use several methods to help blind people kayak, including voice commands, music and tethering, if necessary.

Hunt purchased his own kayak last year. He also participated in the 2018 High Rock Lake Dragon Boat Race, where he placed first in one of the races. He will compete in the Dragon Boat Race again this year as one of the lead rowers.

Everett has worked in blind rehabilitation for 38 years. She has participated in adaptive sports for disabled veterans for most of that time. She is a certified, level 2 American Canoe Association kayak instructor with adaptive endorsement.

Hunt has been kayaking for five years and loves every minute of it.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(Photo by Murat Bahar)

New remote guiding system with sensors in vests

This past summer, Team River Runner and Hunt took kayaking to a new level for visually impaired and blind kayakers. They used a new, remote guiding system, developed and engineered by Team River Runner Chapter Coordinator Jim Riley.

The veteran wears a vest with sensors and Everett uses a paddle with a switch, guiding him based on where he feels the sensors. The vibrating sensation of sensors on his sides, chest and back let him know where he needs to concentrate effort.

It was an incredible success. On that day, they paddled four miles, in and out of coves, under bridges, in and around piers and then back to the dock. The guiding system will be featured at the VA Summer sports clinic in San Diego in September.

Reflecting on his experience, Hunt jubilantly declared, “This life vest, having pulsating areas at the right, left, front and back, to let the visual impaired person know which way you want them to go, was awesome!”

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(Photo by McKayla Crump)

“How awesome to feel independent!”

“This is incredible because it gave me a sense of greater independence,” Hunt said. He continued, “I feel this life vest is a breakthrough for help in enjoying the kayak trip for the visual impaired person.

“How awesome to feel independent on this day! I think this not only shows Team River Runners’ commitment to visual impaired persons, but also shows VA’s willingness to help our visual impaired community in ways not just connected to health care.

“It is a great feeling to do things you never thought you would ever do again.”

Hunt will continue his kayaking adventures with Team River Runner and beyond. He will attend the VA Summer Sports Clinic in September 2020. There, he will have the opportunity to kayak, sail, ride a tandem bike and participate in other activities. Kudos to Mr. Hunt for the positive example he is setting for other disabled veterans!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

MLB prospect starts military commitment

Noah Song did not enroll at the Naval Academy to become a professional baseball player.

First and foremost, he was focused on his education and becoming an officer. Improving his pitching repertoire was nice but not the primary goal. Like all Midshipmen, a military commitment awaited him upon graduation. Being drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2019 altered that timeline only slightly.


From ballplayer to Marine

“It was supposed to be four years and done with baseball,” Song said. “Everything after graduation has really just been a plus.”

Song, 23, reported to flight school in Pensacola in June, leaving behind an abbreviated stint last season for the Red Sox’s Class A short-season, minor-league affiliate in Lowell, Massachusetts. Song put away his glove without complaint, not surprising considering his family’s priorities.

His younger brother, Elijah, recently completed the Marines’ Officer Candidates School in Virginia and is one year from graduating from Cal Maritime. Song’s father, Bill, and older brother, Daniel, work for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and his sister, Faith, is a nurse.

“It seems like all the kids are gravitating to public service and servicing the country,” Bill Song said. “They’ve really fulfilled everything that I would want from a child.”

Elijah, 20, decided to become a Marine as a college freshman. He was interested in the military before Noah chose Navy but was impressed by watching how his brother matured there.

“To see him go through his transformation, just from a normal kid in high school to this refined military officer, … it made me tell myself, ‘Man, I want to be that squared away, that professional,”’ Elijah said.

Baseball wasn’t always on this Navy grad’s mind

Noah was not always that squared away, especially on the baseball field.

Navy was his only offer to play baseball after he graduated from high school in Claremont, California, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. Scouts started paying attention during his junior year at Navy, and then Song blossomed as a senior, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

He was among four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur baseball player in the United States.

“I never really thought about [getting drafted] so much, because the mindset was just on becoming an officer,” Noah said. “I completely agree with that. That’s the complete reason we’re there, so [the attention was] kind of weird.”

While awaiting his flight-school orders, Noah was allowed to begin his professional career last summer. In seven games for Lowell, he allowed two earned runs in 17 innings for a 1.06 ERA.

“When he first got here, I don’t think he was overly confident in who he was,” Navy baseball coach Paul Kostacopoulos said. “He went from this kind of nervous, internal person to being a confident man, so to speak. It’s always great to see.”

Elijah was different.

He played golf in high school but was not that interested in sports. He enjoyed tinkering, once learning to load ammunition by researching it online and watching videos.

But mainly he loved flying. Aboard a Cessna 150, Elijah sat in the pilot’s seat for the first time as a high school junior.

“Feeling the pedals and feeling the yoke and feeling the plane actually move from my control, that was just a life-changing experience,” Elijah said.

Noah, whose future in baseball is uncertain, cherishes that view from the air as well.

He said his relationship with Elijah was tight-knit as children, but they were typical brothers. They argued. They fought. They made up.

“Looking back, it’s all just fond memories,” Noah said. “This military experience has definitely brought us a little bit closer than we used to be, just because we share a bond. We get to have that commonality between us, which is pretty cool.”

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The new Army Football uniforms will be in honor of the Big Red One

Every second Saturday of December, the soldiers of West Point settle their differences with the sailors and Marines of Annapolis in a good, old-fashioned football game. It’s a fiercely heated contest — and not just for the players on the field, but between entire branches.

Remember, when it comes to the troops, any little thing that can be used as bragging rights will be — even the uniforms are a type of competition. Traditionally, each team dons a new military history-inspired uniform for the Army-Navy game. Bringing the best threads to the gridiron isn’t officially a contest, but if it were, hot damn the Army would be winning.


Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

It’s unclear at this time if all Cadets on the field will be wearing the Black Lion or just the ones wearing the 28th Infantry Regiment on their lapel.

(West Point Athletics)

This year, the soldiers are honoring the First Infantry Division by sporting a uniform inspired by the Big Red One. It was chosen because 2018 marks the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. While there were many American units that fought, several of whom are still around, the 1st ID is often heralded for their decisive victory at the Battle of Cantigny.

The iconic Black Lions of Cantigny have been incorporated into the shoulders of the uniforms. The rest of the uniform is a flat black with red trimmings. It features, of course, the Nike logo (the team’s sponsor) and the unit insignia. On the collars are insignias that represent the various regiments of the 1st Infantry Division that fought in World War I.

On the back of the helmet, if you look closely, you’ll spot a subtle American flag. Sharp football fans will notice that the flag only has 48 stars on it. Keeping with WWI legacy, this was the flag that the soldiers of WWI fought under, long before Alaska and Hawaii became part of the Union in 1959.

Check out the announcement video below that was posted to the official Army West Point Athletics Facebook page.

Go Army! Beat Navy!

MIGHTY SPORTS

Pittsburgh Steelers honor WWII Army veteran brothers

Two brothers who served in the Army during World War II were honored during the home opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks with the ATI Salute to Heroes Award.

Former Cpl. Theodore “Ted” Joseph Sikora, 99, served in the Battle of the Bulge in France in 1944 and 1945. Former Sgt. Ed Sikora, 95, served in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1943 and later in the Pacific theater of operations.

The brothers expressed thanks for the tribute. “We’re not used to this much recognition, and I’m very grateful,” said Ted Sikora.


Ed Sikora said he was proud to serve. “I cherished the opportunity to serve my country,” he said.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris shakes hands with Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, grandson-in-law of Ted Sikora.

(Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

Although they are natives of Washington, Pennsylvania, both now live in the Pittsburgh area.

Ted Sikora was a crew member on a Curtiss C-46 Commando and Douglas C-47 Skytrain as a member of the 8th Army Air Force. Those transport aircraft dropped much-needed supplies to the besieged American soldiers.

He was stationed in England on D‐Day — June 6, 1944 — and remembers having trouble sleeping because of the noise from the airplanes taking off for France.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

In a historic photo, Ed Sikora poses during basic training at Camp Edwards, Mass.

(Ed Sikora)

He also remembers planes returning damaged and on fire. He said he witnessed a lot of things he will never forget, and that he doesn’t really like to talk about.

After the war, Ted Sikora worked as a machinist. Now, he enjoys working out and taking Zumba classes.

Ed Sikora was on the opposite side of the world, assigned to the 7th Infantry Division 502nd Anti Artillery Gun Battalion.

Although Ed Sikora wasn’t in Oahu when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, he said the Americans were expecting another attack so they were on constant vigil.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

A historic photo of Ted Sikora as a cadet shows him dressed in a flight uniform with a white ascot, black jacket, headgear and goggles.

(Courtesy of Ted Sikora)

In October 1944, he was attached to the 7th Infantry Division, which landed in the Philippines amid bombing by Japanese fighter planes. His unit was credited with downing six enemy planes.

In 1945, Ed Sikora participated in the Battle of Okinawa. His unit was credited with downing 33 Japanese aircraft.

Later in life, Ed Sikora taught high school and college, specializing in industrial arts. He later established a fruit orchard in California.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora, both Army service members, pose for a photo with their rifles crossed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

(Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora)

Ted Sikora’s granddaughter, Alia Ann Vollstedt, is married to Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, who participated in the game’s opening ceremony joint-service color guard. Daniel Vollstedt is with 2nd Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division, based in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora pose for a photo wearing World War II veteran caps in October 2018.

(Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora)

Daniel Vollstedt said the two veterans have shared some of their stories with him over the years and were proud of his decision to enlist in the Army.

John Wodarek, the Steelers’ marketing manager, said the brothers were selected for the honor because Ted Sikora will turn 100 in March 2020 — which ties in with the National Football League’s 100th-season anniversary being observed this year and next.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

As football fans geared up for Feb. 3, 2019’s ultimate event of the football season, National Guard civil support team members were on site in Atlanta to ensure Super Bowl LIII went off without a hitch.

“They’re just monitoring the area to make sure there are no weapons of mass destruction or no precursors for WMDs in the area,” said Army Lt. Col. Jenn Cope, CST program branch chief at the National Guard Bureau. “That will continue through the game and then for days afterward.”

Elements from eight different CSTs from eight different states were in Atlanta providing assistance, with the Georgia National Guard’s 4th Civil Support Team acting as the lead team.


“It’s a continuous operation for a long period of time, so they’ll need more than just [one CST],” said Cope.

The CSTs began their Super Bowl mission, which started with a sweep of the stadium and surrounding areas to get a baseline reading of the area. That allowed the teams to detect elements already there that may signal the presence of chemical, biological or a large-scale explosive device, while also providing a range of pre-game “normal” readings.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Second Lt. Dustin McCormick, left, and Sgt. William Bean from the 10th Civil Support Team (CST) discuss their plan of action to install radiation monitoring equipment around CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, Nov. 20, 2017.

(Photo by Spc. Alec Dionne)

CST members then watched for any changes to those readings, using sensor equipment that allowed for near real-time tracking. Should a sensor have “pinged,” team members would then have notified state and local officials.

“Their job is to assist and advise,” said Cope, of the CSTs’ mission. “They can’t make the decision on what is to be done. That’s done by local, state and federal agencies. We’re there in a support role.”

And the CSTs are uniquely equipped and set up to provide that support, said Cope.

“The CSTs are set up specifically to be able to work with our interagency partners — that’s part of our prime mission,” she said. “Our radio frequencies are the same that local first responders or the FBI or other agencies at these events use. The CST’s mission is to assess the situation, analyze and provide information to our interagency partners.”

Taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the Super Bowl isn’t a new mission for the CSTs, who provide similar monitoring and analysis at large-scale events, including the State of the Union Address, high-profile sporting events and other comparable large or high visibility events.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, host venue of Super Bowl LIII.

“The CSTs participate in most national security events,” said Cope. “The Super Bowl falls under that.”

Cope added that the CSTs are the perfect asset for the mission of detecting possible WMDs.

“The CSTs are the most trained, the best-trained assets for countering WMDs,” she said. “There is no other unit like them in the National Guard and even in the active component there are very few teams that do what the CSTs do.”

When not supporting events like the Super Bowl, CSTs are often called upon by state and local authorities to respond to incidents involving the release or threatened release of nuclear, biological, radiological, or toxic or poisonous chemicals. In fiscal year 2017, the last year for which data is available, CSTs responded to more than 3,100 events or incidents throughout the U.S.

“They provide that broad spectrum of detection and protection for the states and the events that are happening,” said Cope. “Our guys analyze and detect and then provide that critical information back to state, local and federal authorities.”

And that’s all part of the mission.

“WMDs are a threat throughout the world,” said Cope. “The CSTs are set up to protect the homeland from that.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

One soldier’s unique path to the Warrior Games

When many of us think of wounded warriors, we think of service members injured or wounded downrange, during a deployment or in combat. Pfc. Kyia Costanzo, and her Team Army family participating in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games would say otherwise. Costanzo was injured while in Basic Combat Training, suffering multiple severe injuries, leading to a long journey that has brought her to the DoD Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida.

“My team is comprised of so many incredible soldiers, who have made so many sacrifices for this country, and for me, have been incredible about the fact that I did not complete training. They told me we all signed up to do the same thing, you just got hurt in the process after volunteering to serve your country. You deserve to be here,” Costanzo recalled. “That was really significant to me beyond words.”


Now a soldier at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord’s Warrior Transition Battalion, Costanzo took up adaptive sports to help cope with her injuries, sharpen her focus, and motivate herself towards the next steps ahead of her. Costanzo is competing in the archery and swimming events at Warrior Games.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

U.S. Army Pfc. Kyia Costanzo laughs with fellow competitors during archery practice at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 18, 2019, during the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

(Photo by Spc. Katelyn D. Strange)

“When I first got to the WTB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I heard about adaptive sports, and I was curious as to how injured soldiers can still do sports like basketball and volleyball. Then I saw it in person and was amazed! The more I got introduced to the programs, the more fascinated I became. It’s been life changing. When you are told that you will have limitations on you for the rest of your life, and you can’t do certain things ever again, programs like this are life changing,” said Costanzo.

“Adaptive sports for me, has built confidence and makes me feel as if I’m still doing something to raise awareness in the community about wounded, injured and ill soldiers. It was painful to say goodbye to things like hiking that was painful initially. But getting involved in adaptive sports gave me a new outlet, like I didn’t lose something, but gained new physical activities I could do,” Costanzo added.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

U.S. Army Pfc. Kyia Costanzo attends athlete training for the archery event, June 17, 2019, at MacDill Airforce Base during the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

(Photo by Pfc. Seara Marcsis)

WTBs similar to Costanzo’s are the cornerstone of the Warrior Care and Transition Program and play a vital role in helping our wounded, ill and injured soldiers as they pursue to recover and overcome. The U.S. Army has established WTBs at major military treatment facilities at 14 military installations. The DoD Warrior Games are a culmination of adaptive sports reconditioning that takes place in the WTBs, in the form of an adaptive sports competition for the athletes selected to participate.

“Being a part of this program keeps you part of Team Army,” Costanzo said. “I can’t tell you how much adaptive sports, the Warrior Games, and specifically Team Army have helped me stay positive on what’s happening and to be excited about what’s going to happen for me in the future.”

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

U.S. Army Pfc. Kyia Costanzo speaks with Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville June 22, 2019 at the Bobby Hicks Swimming Pool during a training session for the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

(Photo by Spc. Evens Milcette)

The 2019 DoD Warrior Games will run from June 21-30, 2019, in Tampa, Florida. The athletes participating in the competition are comprised of wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command. Athletes from the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Armed Forces of the Netherlands, and the Danish Armed Forces are also competing in this year’s DoD Warrior Games.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

Here’s how you can play in the new Call of Duty esports league

Everyone’s favorite gaming franchise, Call of Duty, launched its esports league Jan. 24 to the excitement of fans across the globe. Owned by Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty franchise continues to be their most popular brand and the company is hoping to capitalize on that success with this new league.


That’s right: thousands of people are gathering in stadiums to watch other people play video games. Just like toddlers like to watch toy unboxing videos, middle-aged women like to watch other people buying houses, gamers came out in droves to watch some of the best in the world go head to head playing Call of Duty.

The league makes sense: one of the Call of Duty titles has been the best-selling game in the U.S. for nine of the past 11 years, according to market analysis firm the NPD Group.

According to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, Call of Duty League franchise owners paid million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, which boasts 12 professional teams, representing 11 markets across North America and Europe. The teams are:

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Call of Duty Esports League Teams

Here is the rundown of the Official Call of Duty League Rules:

  • Pro teams compete in 5-vs-5 Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare multiplayer matches, on PlayStation®4.
  • Call of Duty League matches will be played around the globe in the home market of each team in the league.
  • The league features the best Call of Duty esports players from around the globe.
  • Players are paid; starting salaries range around k.
  • At the end of the regular season, the top 8 ranked teams, including four wild card spots will advance to the playoffs.
  • During the Call of Duty League Championship Weekend, the final six Playoffs teams will face off in double-elimination competition until the final two pro teams go head to head in the Call of Duty League Championship.
  • Teams will be battling to take home the glory of being the best in the world and reportedly over million in prizes. Yes, we said million.

Want to get in on this? There are plenty of ways for fans to get involved, according to the Call of Duty League website:

Launching later this season (2020), fans may sign up as duos to compete in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare “Gunfight” matches for a chance to win prizing and to compete at a Call of Duty League event. More details about the City Circuit will be announced in the coming months.

Additionally, throughout the season the Call of Duty League will unlock new opportunities for spectators and amateur players to participate online and at league events to be announced in the future.

Here are the results from opening weekend.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Call of Duty League Standings


Fans can vote for their favorite players on the website as well as see league standings. Get ready to buy all the merch.

MIGHTY SPORTS

New report reveals the US military’s fattest service branch

About one in five Navy sailors are obese, making it the US military’s fattest service branch, a new Pentagon report found.

The obesity rate for the Navy was 22% — higher than the average for the four main service branches — the “Medical Surveillance Monthly Report” said, adding that obesity is a “growing health concern among Sailors.”

The report stressed that obesity affected Navy readiness — but this branch of the military wasn’t the only one facing higher obesity rates. The Army came in at 17.4%, the Department of Defense average, while the Air Force had a slightly higher rate, at 18.1%. The Marines were by far the leanest, with an obesity rate of only 8.3%.


These calculations were based on body mass index, “calculated utilizing the latest height and weight record in a given year,” the report said. “BMI measurements less than 12 and greater than 45 were considered erroneous and excluded.”

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(U.S. Navy photo by Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Nelson Doromal)

The report did explain some limits to using BMI: that “Service members with higher lean body mass may be misclassified as obese based on their BMI,” that “not all Service members had a height or weight measurement available in the Vitals data each year,” and that “BMI measures should be interpreted with caution, as some of them can be based on self-reported height and weight.”

Among the services, the report found, obesity rates were higher among men than women, as well as among people 35 and over as opposed to those in their 20s.

“The overall prevalence of obesity has increased steadily since 2014,” it said.

Obesity is on the rise across the services, The New York Times reported. It said the Navy’s obesity rate had increased sixfold since 2011, while the rates for the other services had more than doubled.

This trend appears linked to one in civilian society — 39.8 percent of adult Americans were considered obese in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)

Roughly 30% of Americans between the 17 and 24 are ineligible for Army recruitment, and about a third of prospective recruits are disqualified based on their weight, Army Times reported in October 2019.

“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest — 31 percent — is obesity,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of the Army Recruiting Command, told Army Times.

The Army’s 2018 “Health of the Force” report said that “the high prevalence of obesity in the U.S. poses a serious challenge to recruiting and retaining healthy Soldiers.”

The new Pentagon report further explained that “obesity negatively impacts physical performance and military readiness and is associated with long-term health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and risk for all-cause mortality.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Baseball’s best defensive third baseman also served in the Army National Guard

Most baseball fans recognize the name Brooks Robinson. He played for the Baltimore Orioles from 1955 to 1977 and is widely considered to be the best defensive third baseman ever.

Robinson joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in March 1958. He was activated and assigned to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and later to the Army‘s 78th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas.


He served as an ordnance parts specialist. While on the rifle range for qualification with the M1 Garand rifle in November 1958, Robinson received a commendation for his performance as a squad leader for his unit. It stated, ”He has performed his duties in an excellent and commendable manner. It is recommended he be considered for more rapid promotion than his contemporaries.”

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles)

Officials with the Arkansas National Guard at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas, said he was honorably discharged from Company A, 739 Ordnance Battalion, in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Jan. 2, 1962.

In 1966, Robinson, by then a civilian, visited troops in all four Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. Traveling with him on the morale-boosting tour were Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals, Joe Torre and Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves, Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins, and sportscaster Mel Allen.

During the tour, Killebrew was heard telling Robinson that the league champion Orioles played the best ball in the American League that year and that the Orioles deserved to win the pennant.

Robinson helped the Orioles advance to the postseason six times, with Baltimore winning four American League pennants (1966, 1969, 1970 and 1971) and two World Series (1966 and 1970) during his career. In 39 career postseason games, Robinson hit .303 with five homers and 22 runs batted in.

The Orioles retired his No. 5 jersey in 1977. He led all American League third basemen 11 times in fielding percentage and eight times in assists. His 2,870 games at third base rank No. 1 on the all-time list.

Frank Robinson, another baseball great, once said that Brooks was the best defensive player at any position. ”I used to stand in the outfield like a fan and watch him make play after play. I used to think, ‘Wow! I can’t believe this,”’ he said.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles)

Frank Robinson also played for the Orioles. His time with the team overlapped with that of Brooks Robinson from 1966 to 1971.

​More About Brooks Robinson:

  • As a boy, Robinson operated the scoreboard at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock. The baseball sequence from the 1984 film ”A Soldier’s Story” was filmed there.
  • In 1955, Robinson played baseball in South America; he played in Cuba in 1957.
  • In 2012, a large bronze statue of him was unveiled at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.


MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL’s ‘Power Bottom’ — 5 least entertaining teams to watch

Like it or not, the NFL’s ratings are pretty much the same in 2018 when you look at them year over year. The ratings do dip at times, depending on the teams and the time of day. And really, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to spend three hours on a Thursday night watching the Jets and Browns pillow fight — especially because there’s no guarantee that Cleveland will lose every game in spectacular fashion this year.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot
That job is taken.

But just because a team wins games doesn’t mean they’re fun to watch. This problem is most evident in college football. I’ve been raised as an Ohio State fan, but that doesn’t make the game exciting. I remember spending Saturday afternoons watching the zoomed-in-completely-yet-still-too-far-away telecast as Ohio State puts 900 points on someone like Dartmouth College. It’s just a boring day when you already know the outcome.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, these are the ones that actually make me wish they were blacked out, just so I could watch a different, interesting game. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Bengals fan — and the only reason the Bengals didn’t make this list is because it’s kind of exciting to see how they’re going to blow their lead every week. Will it be a well-timed fumble? Will they just stop scoring points in the second half? Who knows?


Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot
Or maybe it’s an Andy Dalton pass that does it!

It’s a race to the bottom here, but some other teams deserve a mention, especially the Houston Texans and New York Giants. By the time they played each other, they were both 0-2. Somebody had to stand out, but they sure waited until the fourth quarter to do anything to make anyone care.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

This is the only Bills-related thing I want to see every week.

5. Buffalo Bills

If the Bills were a flavor, they’d be vanilla. Watching the Bills is like opening a Neapolitan Ice Cream box and finding out someone ate the two good flavors and didn’t throw the rest away. Even watching them blow out the Vikings got old after a while. At least the Vikings were fun against the Packers.

It’s hard to believe the Bills gave up two second round picks to get Wyoming’s Josh Allen because they also have nothing for Allen to work with. The team’s sound reasoning is that “he is Buffalo.” Great call. No wonder the Bills’ fans are the best part about the team.

NBC’s Chris Simms was excited for Allen because his Wonderlic intelligence test score was the highest in the league, despite the fact the Wonderlic means nothing. Dan Marino scored a 15 to Allen’s 37, but my guess is the Bills would love to have a Marino. EJ Manuel complained that the Bills didn’t let him grow as a player, and there might be something to that. Many former Bills players saw limited success until they left the organization – Marshawn Lynch, Sammy Watkins, London Fletcher, Ronald Darby, and even all the way back to Antoine Winfield.

The Bills went to the playoffs last year, so obviously they have to change their entire team. You might as well sign Colin Kaepernick, Buffalo. At least it would give people something to talk about — aside from Vontae Davis retiring in the middle of a game.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

(NFL Memes)

4. New England Patriots

They may have gotten their asses handed to them in the Super Bowl last year, but this is still the New England Patriots we’re talking about, right? Right? The most interesting thing that’s happened watching the Patriots in 2018 so far is the look on Dolphins fans’ faces as their 3-0 ‘Fins get annihilated by the person they hate the most for four quarters.

The problem with that game is that the rest of us couldn’t stand to watch New England beat a lifeless Dolphin team. It sure wasn’t fun watching the Pats score two field goals they didn’t need to stay on top of the Texans. Every minute the Patriots have played after halftime of week one has pretty much been garbage time.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

The headline on Chargers.com on October 2nd reads “Philip Rivers Off to Best Start of His Career,” which tells you what it must be like for Chargers fans, waiting 15 years only to have Rivers’ “best start” be 11 touchdowns and a 2-2 record.

3. Los Angeles Chargers

The Bills may be a vanilla team, but if you’re going for consistent blandness year after year, look no further than the Chargers. They’re the plain yogurt of the NFL. As a matter of fact, since the Chargers went 13-3 in 2009, their record has been around 50-50 on average. Of all the teams in the NFL, they’re Charlie Browniest. They’re even at number three on this list.

Charger fans might ask about their recent two-point win over San Francisco, but that only proves my point. Sure, they won by just two points, not only did the Chargers only score field goals in the whole second half, their game-winning field goal was the only one they scored in the fourth quarter and they did it with more than four minutes left on the game clock. The Garoppolo-less 49ers didn’t even get past midfield in their last possessions.

If you thought the Chargers were forgotten in San Diego, remember that LeBron James plays for the Lakers, the Dodgers are in the National League Division Series, and the Rams are f*cking explosive. I’m really not sure why LA wanted the Chargers.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Just leave the ball there. It’s not like you were doing anything with it.

2. Indianapolis Colts

At least the Jets are getting fined for crude touchdown dances. The 1-3 Colts are headed to face New England in what will probably be the game I’m forced to watch in the afternoon on television after I get home from watching fun games at the bar. Which is totally fine, I like a good nap in the afternoon — but even the Indianapolis Star is calling the game a “joke.”

Sure, the Colts lost a squeaker to the Texans in overtime on week four, but you had to sit through three quarters of Colts football to catch that end, so of course no one saw it (unless you were watching the Red Zone). What’s interesting about Colts games? Their kicker. 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri just broke the all-time field goal record after 20 years and four Super Bowls and shows no sign of stopping.

That’s about it.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Larry Fitzgerald, headed to the locker room, probably to call Vontae Davis.

1. Arizona Cardinals

The winless Cardinals are not only the worst team in the league right now, but they’re also the hardest to watch. They didn’t even score a touchdown until week three and even then they didn’t do anything for the rest of the game. They don’t need to win games to be interesting, I mean, watching Cleveland is still fun, even when we’re reasonably sure they aren’t going to win, but at least Cleveland thinks they can.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

That engine is practically in a Browns uniform.

Arizona averages a whopping 9.2 points per game, making the Rams blowout their most interesting game just because we all wanted to see if LA could keep them scoreless while putting up 34 points. A Madden simulation would have been more interesting.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Soldier running her 100th marathon in Boston

It all started when she was stationed in Virginia 12 years ago. That’s when Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra Butler saw everyone training for the Marine Corps Marathon and decided to give the 26.2 mile race a try.

As a soldier, running was already a part of her daily life and physical fitness routine. She had ran several other shorter races to include the Army 10-miler and a few half marathons, so the challenge of a full marathon appealed to her. She wasn’t even afraid of the dreaded “wall” that everyone told her she would hit around mile 20 when her body would start shutting down as energy stores ran low and fatigue set in.


“I had never experienced the wall and was feeling pretty great,” recalled Butler. “I saw the mile markers for mile 19, then mile 20, then 21. I was feeling good and thinking to myself that maybe I avoided the wall. Then at mile 22, everything from my waist down locked up — it felt like I really did hit a wall. My muscles were in knots, my toes were cramping and every time I took a step it just hurt.”

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Beofra Butler running in the 2018 Tunnel Vision Marathon in North Bend, Wash., Aug. 19, 2018. She set a personal record, finishing the race with a chip time of 3:34:11.

A lady tapped her on the shoulder and encouraged her to move off to the side and stretch before resuming the race.

“I wanted to cry,” she said. “I knew it was just four more miles. I wobbled to the finish along with a bunch of other people doing the exact same thing.”

After the race later that night, with ice bags on her legs and a computer on her lap, Butler signed up for her next marathon.

“I just had to do it again for myself so I could figure out how to do it without pain,” she said.

Butler ran her second marathon during a deployment, followed by another and another and another. She’s preparing to run her 100th marathon in Boston on April 15, 2019. The race will be her sixth Boston Marathon and she says that it is fitting because it’s her favorite event.

“There’s something special about running in Boston,” she said. “It’s the only race you have to qualify for to get in and after working so hard to be a part of it, you really enjoy the moment when you get there. The support of the crowd is amazing and it’s just a great place to be.”

She got there by figuring out how to avoid that wall of pain.

“For the most part, I don’t hit a wall anymore,” Butler said. “Now I know what that feels like and I never want to feel it again.”

How does she do it? The way anyone in the Army does anything — with an abbreviation. According to Butler, the key to running a successful marathon comes down to the 3P’s: pacing, patience and practice.

She says that you need to control your pace throughout the entire marathon and exercise patience as those around you start out fast or crowd the track. To refine your pacing and patience, you need to practice.

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra K. Butler, administrative executive officer to the commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, poses with her five Boston Marathon marathon medals.

(Photo by Eve Meinhardt, FORSCOM)

“It comes down to having time on your feet,” said Butler. “You have to put in the time and stay positive.”

Her time comes from running at least five days a week. She averages 10 miles a day with Saturdays being her long run day of anywhere from 13 to 20 miles. She does speed work on Wednesdays, often bringing others along with her to help them train to meet their goals.

As the administrative executive officer to the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, her work schedule can often be hectic and conflict with her training time. To mitigate this, Butler is a conscientious meal planner, preparing all her meals, to include snacks, on the weekends. She says she often hits the pavement at 3 a.m. just so she can ensure she gets time to run.

“I just love the feeling of running,” she said. “It’s freedom. I don’t listen to music. I listen to my heartbeat. My footsteps. My breathing. It’s a meditation and I’m always trying to get better.”

Butler says that running is wonderful because you can do it wherever you are and with no special equipment. For those aspiring to run in races of any distance, she said that it’s important to find a training plan.

“Training is a part of learning yourself,” she said. “It helps you become more comfortable when you’re out there. You need to trust your training and just enjoy the moment.”

Despite the fact that Butler says that she could probably roll out of bed and run an impromptu marathon, she still finds ways to challenge herself. Five of her marathons were ultra-marathons ranging from a 50K to a 100 mile race.

Butler’s most recent race was her third All American Marathon here at Fort Bragg. She led the 4:15 pace group. Her pacing was right on point with her crossing the finish line at 4 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds and still placing first in her age group.

Her personal record is 3 hours and 34 minutes and she says that she would like to get that down to 3:30.

“After Boston, I’m not racing again until August,” she said. “I’m going to be training for my PR and I’m going to get it.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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