September 5, 2015

West Point pillow fight ends with 24 concussions, a broken leg, and dislocated shoulders.

"Colonel Kasker said the annual fight is organized by first-year students as a way to build camaraderie after the summer program that prepares them for the rigors of plebe year."
Photos posted later on Twitter show plebes, as freshmen are called, with bloody faces and bloody pillows, and at least one person being loaded into an ambulance.

“My plebe was knocked unconscious and immediately began fighting when he came to,” an unnamed upperclassman, who was apparently observing from the sidelines, wrote on the social media forum Yik Yak. “I was so proud I could cry.”
ADDED: "But this year the fight on the West Point, N.Y., campus turned bloody as some cadets swung pillowcases packed with hard objects, thought to be helmets...."

That made me think of the old Freakonomics episode, "The Dangers of Safety":
Modern [football] helmets do a good job of preventing skull fractures and on-field deaths: that’s why those numbers are way down historically. But getting lots of concussions isn’t very healthy either. To prevent them, Dr. Cantu could make a more cushioned helmet — but then you might be more worried about skull fractures again. And then there’s this problem: if you did give football players a more heavily cushioned helmet, what are they going to do with it? A lot of people think the biggest problem in the game today is that players use their helmets not so much as protection … but as a weapon.

30 comments:

David Hampton said...

There are some serious problems at West Point if this is the norm for behavior before becoming a plebe. Putting helmets in a pillow case defeats the purpose of team spirit and a misinterpretation of mano-a-mano conduct in REAL kinetic encounters on the battlefield. This mirrors the cultural problem today trumpeted by Obama and his nihilism at the expense of the cohesive group.

EDH said...

Don't they know that only pillow-biting biting is allowed in this man's Army?

The Drill SGT said...

The problem lies in the lack of leadership/supervision by the upperclassman company officers...

Wilbur said...

Anyone whose judgment is so poor as to promote such a ridiculously dangerous activity has no business being an officer.

AReasonableMan said...

David Hampton said...
There are some serious problems at West Point if this is the norm for behavior before becoming a plebe. Putting helmets in a pillow case defeats the purpose of team spirit and a misinterpretation of mano-a-mano conduct in REAL kinetic encounters on the battlefield. This mirrors the cultural problem today trumpeted by Obama and his nihilism at the expense of the cohesive group.


Yes this must be Obama's fault. No doubt about it.

Tarrou said...

Can't they have their fun in a less combative way? Like a Kumbaya circle, or perhaps Yoga? I mean, it's a prep school for rich shitheads right? Not an academy to train soldiers!

What's hilarious is West Pointers are considered the most effete, useless, whiny losers the rest of the Army has to cover for, even moreso than other officers. Maybe they should have told us about their super-dangerous pillow fights! BAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHHHAHAHAH!

Bay Area Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bay Area Guy said...

A pillow fight at West Point seems kinda Beta-male-ish. Adding helmets to your pillow seems kinda impulsive. Leaking the story to the NYTimes seems kinda churlish. Are they all gay there at West Point now:)

Michael K said...

I thought the NYT comments would be interesting. They were. The first (latest_:

"Boys will be boys"... especially if you indoctrinate them from infancy that "boys" are soldiers first and human beings second.

I await the first transgender plebes so this outrage will not be repeated. Maybe Caitlyn Jenner can be enticed to participate in training for sensitivity. Wars are so old fashioned and sexist.

Bobby said...

The Drill SGT,

Honestly, from the article, it looks like the upperclassmen were the ones instigating and escalating it into ever-greater violence. We didn't have this tradition when I went there, but my plebe year, almost 20 years ago to the day, the First Captain organized a BP Cart Race (BP carts were used to collect all the trash). The idea was just to put some plebes in a cart and push it around the course, first to get to the end, wins. Instead, plebes showed up with football pads and lacrosse sticks and everyone focused on beating the hell out of each other for the amusement of the upperclassmen. It turned into a lot of emergency room trips. The First Captain wound up getting a Regimental disciplinary board for "error in judgment with major effect" because the Commandant determined that he should have known it would have descended into such chaos. Funny thing, though, at our reunion last year, almost all of my classmates spoke about it with fond memories.

Original Mike said...

Boys will be boys.

Jason said...

We should just bring back jousting tournaments and be done with it.

Original Mike said...

"The Dangers of Safety"

We watch a lot of rugby (tonight's game is the Cronulla Sharks vs the Manley Sea Eagles). No helmets, no pads, and it seems there are a lot less injuries. Though I think a lot of that is because there is no forward pass and no blocking.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...


Didn't see Michael K's NYT quote. I meant mine as a joke.

Jason said...

To be a good soldier you must stand ready to engage in incredible levels of violence.

To be a good officer you must constantly have the judgment, maturity, restraint, moral courage and credibility to control that violence.

This is not an easy thing.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Much ado about nothing. They got a little too rambunctious while blowing off some steam. There will be worse injuries in the intramural sports they play, let alone at the varsity level.

MayBee said...

It's disturbing they would add helmets to the pillows to purposefully injure their fellow soldiers.

MayBee said...

"Boys will be boys"... especially if you indoctrinate them from infancy that "boys" are soldiers first and human beings second.

Stuff like this, and the people who believe in "rape culture", make me wonder what America these people are living in.

PB said...

Ah yes, the Peltzman Effect. Safety devices encourage risky behavior and end up causing more damage.

mccullough said...

This is why they haven't beaten Navy in football. Fake tough guy shit. Frag the morons who let this go on.

MayBee said...

This isn't like the fake safety thing. It would be more similar if a football helmet had secretly embedded spikes.

Gordon said...

When I played football in the 1970s, we were explicitly taught that our helmets were for inflicting punishment on our opponents. We were told to keep our head up, to avoid the neck injuries caused by hitting with the top of the head. But we did lead with the head. No one realized that we were actually punishing ourselves.

My father played in the 1950s, with no face mask. Needless to say, they didn't lead with the head.

Bill Peschel said...

Not germane but it is silly: "Gentlemen! There will be no fighting at the military academy."

holdfast said...

While the stupidity will have to be punished (though not too harshly) I am still heartened by the show of aggression and initiative. Judgment and restraint can (and should) be taught, but aggression and a "can do" attitude is more innate.

Edmund said...

Padding football helmets won't help. I heard a concussion expert being interviewed. His analogy: it doesn't matter how much padding you wrap around it, if you drop a box with a rubber ball inside, the ball will bounce around.

SeanF said...

About the football players using their helmets more as weapons than protection, I remember reading that brain injuries in boxing became more common after they started wearing the big padded gloves.

You can't hit somebody in the head with your bare hand hard enough to do much damage, because you'll break your hand first. With the hand padded and protected, you can hit their head much harder.

Achilles said...

These guys would have been torn up at in the hall wars in our barracks. A helmet in a pillow case? Too slow. Someone would close on you and punch you in the face before you could swing.

AReasonableMan said...

"Yes this must be Obama's fault. No doubt about it."

Coming from an ignorant fuck like you you wouldn't understand how Obama has mauled the readiness of our units. Starting in 2009 we got regular visits from the IG office looking for "hazing" incidents. A lot of good E7's and E6's got fired over "drive-ons"(feed a private beer and food and smoke him until he pukes right before he goes to ranger School where he is starved and sleep deprived) which is absolutely retarded. We had to spend significant time in stupid classes on sensitivity and cultural awareness. They cut down the ropes we would climb up after a private lost his grip. Of course the worst was the changes in ROE's and the apparent desire from whoever changed them to get as many of us killed as possible.

I could spend a lot more time listing off the bullshit we were subjected to once Obama was elected but it makes me sad and angry. I am going to settle for festering rage at you disgusting armchair captains who lie about no WMD's and belittle our missions every chance you get.

I don't think you guys get just how mad our community is.

David Hampton said...

Achilles; if you weren't a NonCom you should have been. I was a Navy-Petty Officer.Petty Officers and Non-COms ran the military until Zumwalt, etc. showed up on the scene and began the slow decay of our military readiness and discipline. That was Viet Nam. Well said, and I have used the same language at REMF's who got our people killed. Carry on!

Nichevo said...

Funny thing is. Back around the aftermath of 9/11, I was out on Long Island with my cousin who has the house out on Long Island and she wanted to know what went wrong why didn't we manage to stop them. Explain some about how the world works and how the chief threat the Dew line and DSPS and so forth is intended to catch is missiles and bombers coming to the US from outside eg Russia. That it's not...

Anyway, so she wasn't entirely happy with this and readiness, blah blah blah and she wanted to... she's a former politicians so apparently she has some juice and she wanted to get generals in front of Congress testifying about what happened.

I told her that's great for show, but that actually, if you really want to know what actually happening, a general is not the one to get in front of you, but one of the NCOs who actually works with the system. Maybe a bright PFC or Spec-4 because they would have no filter.