President Trump hosted the U.S. Military Academy Army football team at the White House Monday to present them with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for winning their games against Navy and Air Force last season. When Trump spoke during the event, he proposed a policy for military academy athletes with the potential to go professional: deferring the service requirements of pro sports prospects so they can pursue a career in professional sports first. Then, the athletes could serve out their military contract when their professional career is over.
As it currently stands, athletes can apply for a waiver to defer some of their service after completing two years of their five-year commitment.
For a brief time, Trump’s idea was actually U.S. policy. Former President Barack Obama’s administration enacted it in 2016, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis rescinded it in May 2017. At the time, then-Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White argued, “Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services.”