NFL's Pro-Military Pomp Costs Taxpayers Millions
May 14, 2015
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Nick Schwartz / USA Today
Pro-military displays during NFL football games are virtually ubiquitous these days and nowhere is that more apparent that at a New York Jets home-game, where the team singles out soldiers on the big screen and admonishes the crowd to cheer them. The "Hometown Hero" segment might seem like just lazy pandering to jingoism among hometown fans, but it's not. The Jets, like many NFL teams, are actually getting paid by the Pentagon to do it.
NFL's Pro-Military Pomp Costs Pentagon Millions
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 11, 2015) -- Pro-military displays during NFL football games are virtually ubiquitous these days and nowhere is that more apparent that at a New York Jets home-game, where the team singles out soldiers on the big screen and admonishes the crowd to cheer them.
The "Hometown Hero" segment might seem like just lazy pandering to jingoism among hometown fans, but it's not. The Jets, like many NFL teams, are actually getting paid by the Pentagon to do it.
Between direct Pentagon funding and the National Guard, 14 NFL teams have received $5.4 million over the past 4 seasons to pay them to hold these pro-military segments.
The National Guard is defending the cost as a "recruiting" expense, though much like the similar NASCAR bankrolling, there is little sign that they have yielded results.
Report: Defense Department Paid
NFL Teams Millions to Salute the Military
Nick Schwartz / USA Today
(May 11, 2015) -- It's very common for professional sports teams to salute the military before games, but as a NJ.com report reveals, it isn't always just a public service. Between 2011 and 2014, the United States Department of Defense has paid NFL teams more than $5 million to salute the troops and provide access to games and events.
"The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts . . . . The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service."
A spokesman from the New Jersey Guard told NJ.com that the Guard uses the access to games as a recruiting tactic. News also broke on Monday that New Jersey governor Chris Christie spent $82,594 on concessions at MetLife Stadium over the course of two years. The money has since been paid back to the New Jersey state treasury.
Pentagon's Massive Spending on NASCAR,
Wrestling Sponsorships Raises Eyebrows
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 20, 2011) -- With the Pentagon claiming its budget, the largest military budget in the history of humankind, is woefully undersized, new scrutiny is being brought by Rep. Betty McCollum (D – MN) over the massive amounts the military is spending on sporting events.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year sponsoring everything from baseball and basketball broadcasts to professional wrestling, fishing events and especially NASCAR. Indeed, the National Guard spent $20 million in 2010 just to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The Army spent nearly $8 million sponsoring another racing team, while another $16 million was spent sponsoring the "Outdoor College Fishing Tour." The military spends so much on professional wrestling that the WWE has its own webpage on the National Guard's website, and vice versa.
Officials argue that the money is a "recruiting expense," but Rep. McCollum cited in particular the Air Guard 400, a racing event held in September at a cost of $645,000 in sponsorship fees. Though the military insisted the event was a success because it led to 439 "lead information" collections, they also conceded that only six "qualified leads" were among them, and not a single one enlisted.
Rep. McCollum has previously sought to require the military to obtain Congressional approval for sponsorships beyond $250,000, which was shouted down in a voice vote. With spending increasingly at issue (McCollum noted that the massive sponsorships continued even after Congress defunded a program for homeless vets), it is likely to continue to be a bone of contention going forward.
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