A lot of professional teams across the sporting world honor our military. You see it almost every weekend. Teams honoring veterans on the sidelines before games, or during halftime shows. You see military members frequently singing the national anthem, and there have even been moments of enlistment opportunities at games, all under the presentation of support from whatever league the game is in.
If you are at all familiar with the world of big league ownership and the greed that comes with it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that most of these events are basically just paid-for advertisements by the military pretending to be real honor. Paid Patriotism. These teams and leagues are in bed with the military, and the military is using your taxpayer dollars to basically run real-life advertisements during sporting events. What is surprising, however, is that a couple of senators are mad and are doing something about it.
In a detailed report about the so-called “Paid Patriotism,” Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) have investigated the military for these actions. If you have any interest at all, it’s a long PDF, but worth a look over. This isn’t a major crime or anything being unveiled here, but the report does seem to suggest some frivolous spending for unnecessary gain to pro sports teams. The problem here isn’t so much that the military and DOD are advertising with pro sports, the problem seems to be that it’s not highly controlled and therefore may be a waste of taxpayer dollars for an essentially irrelevant benefit to the taxpayers, and a lack of separation between funds used for traditional recruitment methods (ads, kiosks, etc.) and these “honors” that teams run to support the troops.
We aren’t talking billions or hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted, but the report names at least $10 million in questionable use of funds, which is still substantial. Hopefully the report does its best to clean up the spending a bit and make things more transparent going forward. The last thing professional sports needs is more backroom deals that hurt the public without us even knowing.