Image credit: U.S. Army

December 09, 2022

Army Football Alums Make General More Often than Other Officers—Why?

Featuring Katherine L. Kuzminski

Source: Army Times

Journalist Davis Winkie

Woodruff highlighted that football players have “an even closer group that…[they’ve] struggled and bonded with,” adding that “those closer ties in a broader network do matter.”

The CNAS expert agreed. “If you think that the network of West Pointers is tight, then the network of former football players is even tighter,” she said. “And the fact that there’s historically been more general officers who played football at West Point means that football players who come up behind them are part of that network.”

Gender also plays an undeniable role in the data — for the majority of these officers’ careers, women have been shut out from the combat arms branches and the promotion advantage it provides. And all West Point football players are men.

Kuzminski argued that football players experience a “compounding of that network effect and the selection effect” that favors the traits they possess as physically-imposing, male academy graduates who skew towards combat arms careers.

“There’s already so many gates to get to” the general officer ranks, but if you’re a West Point football player, she explained, “There are advantages at every gate you pass.”

Woodruff and Kuzminski also suggested further research could determine whether the football phenomenon is unique, or if other athletes with similar traits also become generals at similarly elevated rates

Read the full story and more from Army Times.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Senior Fellow and Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research specializations include Dep...