Photo from NBC News
THIS is beyond outrageous. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake released a report on Wednesday slamming the Department of Defense, and by extension the military and the Pentagon, for spending millions of dollars on “recruitment” activities that included paying major league sports franchises for all those wonderfully patriotic displays of appreciation for our troops. They call it “paid patriotism.” From Fox News:
“When events take place on the field that anyone assumes … is done out of the goodness of their heart, and find out that it is being paid for by the taxpayer, it kind of cheapens everything,” Flake told Fox News. “It’s just not right.”
According to the investigative report, contracts worth $6.8 million since fiscal 2012 included “displays of paid patriotism.” These involve leagues ranging from the NFL to the MLB to the NHL. …
All told, throughout the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS, $53 million was spent on marketing and advertising contracts.
Forget the military. The sports franchises AND, AND colleges and one NASCAR track ACTUALLY TOOK MONEY FOR THIS?!
(Sorry, folks, but for this baseball and hockey girl, THAT is just as big a scandal as the waste of tax payer money. At every Blues game, we stand and applaud a member of the armed services. Color guards from Scott Air Force Base and other installations present colors. They are always shown love. That appreciation is heart-felt and true. It’s not cheapened as Sen. Flake claims, but it doesn’t say much for the franchises who took the cash.)
The report slams this practice as “paid patriotism.” The practice has stopped as of last year and the National Football League, anyway, is encouraging the funds to be returned. Sens. McCain and Flake ask for the funds to at least be donated to veteran and armed forces related charities and organizations of which there are many.
The report itself details moneys spent with specific franchises that includes some pretty illustrious names. The senators spared no one exposed in the paper trail. The invoices are included. This writer is happy to report that her beloved Blues and St. Louis Cardinals are not listed. (Neither are the Chicago Blackhawks and the Cubs, our archrivals in both leagues, or the Dodgers and the Yankees for that matter, so we can’t hate them for that.)
There is no excuse for this. Yes, it is a waste of taxpayer money, but even worse, there is absolutely no reason for these teams to be accepting cash for military people to sing the National Anthem, throw out first pitches, drop first pucks, sing “God Bless America,” and anything else that might be a perk. Not to argue with Senator Flake, but that isn’t just cheap, it’s mercenary.
One point of interest: the report does include a document produced by the NFL that outlines all activities related to paid patriotism by each of its franchises following audits of marketing expenditures. This writer has no real use for the NFL, but at least in this, they are leading the way for the rest of major league sports to be transparent about how much they are willing to be paid to express patriotism.