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When Mikael Granlund was called up for service in Finland’s military seven years ago, he could have tried to get an exemption. For an elite ice hockey player such as Granlund, who now plays for the National Hockey League team Minnesota Wild, a year in the armed forces can bring serious athletic setbacks. But Granlund didn’t try to be exempted.
“For a Finn, it’s an honor to do military service,” the 25-year-old Granlund said this month. “It’s just something you do if you want your country to stay independent.” What about athletes? “Professional athletes do it, too,” Granlund added. “It’s just something you want to do.”
Granlund is not alone. Each year, several of Finland’s top athletes join the Finnish Defence Forces as conscripts. So do music stars, who could similarly try to be exempted. Though the FDF—like most armed forces—exempts would-be