Just one week prior to Veterans Day, Senators John Flake and John McCain of Arizona dropped a bombshell regarding the honoring of our military by professional sports clubs – it cost the Pentagon millions. According to a recent report, the Pentagon spent between $6.8 and $9 million on patriotic events- something the Senators are furious about. But, is this really an outrage? And what do veterans think?
Senators Flake and McCain claimed that documents they obtained from the Pentagon show that, since 2012, the Department of Defense has entered into 72 contracts with major league sports franchises to conduct “military themed” events. The teams involved include those from the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and NASCAR. Events ranged from swearing and re-enlistment ceremonies, service members unfurling the American flag across the field and the recognition of “hometown heroes.”
When I first heard of the claims I was a bit surprised because, like many Americans, I saw these events and simply thought the teams were showing patriotism. Interestingly enough, I first read of the report just prior to watching a Sunday NFL game – during military appreciation week. But, as I watched the game and saw team staff each wearing team hats and shirts in multicam camouflage designs, I realized that it really isn’t that big of a deal.
Sure I wish that Americans, including major league sports teams, would recognize the service military members perform out of the goodness of their heart. But then I realized that sports are big business. Over 64% of Americans watch the NFL each week and a 30 second spot during the 2015 Super Bowl cost $4.5 million. So, if the Wisconsin Army National Guard paid $49,000 to sponsor the singing of “God Bless America” during a Brewers game or the NY Jets received $20,000 to recognize two hometown heroes that seems like a bargain right? Plus, if the DOD was offering to pay for recruiting spots, does it matter whether it was a life display or a recorded commercial? I guess it depends on how you look at it.
I agree that some of these events, especially the swearing in or re-enlistment ceremonies and hometown hero recognition, are cheapened by being paid for. But, on the other hand, the service members involved received a once in a lifetime memory- especially if they were sports fans themselves. Again, it depends on whether or not the members knew about the pay to play aspect or were misled to believe the teams truly wished to recognize them.
The bottom line is that recruiting during a period of extended conflicts and improving economy is difficult. It is no secret the Department of Defense spends big bucks to air commercials, place billboards along highways and apparently get your favorite sports figures to wave the flag, patting your brothers in arms on the back. The NFL has requested that any teams involved return the money they received; maybe the real solution is free passes for service members to the game of their choice. Any takers? Maybe I’ll wear my new Steelers camo hat.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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