We’ve all been to a sporting event of some kind, and felt that pang of pride in our gut when the National Anthem plays, and our service members take part in some kind of patriotic display. Some displays are beautiful—like a flag that covers an entire football field—and others are just plain awesome—like a service member rappelling down rope in the middle of a hockey arena to drop the puck.
I was a little confused when I read this week that the Pentagon has been paying sports teams for the opportunity to showcase service members in their pre-show routines.
What? The same Pentagon that doesn’t have the funds to properly equip service members in the field, or to train them prior to deployment because there’s no money in the Defense budget? Where did the money come from? And should we be mad?
I’m on the fence.
But Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., isn’t. He’s made sure Congress knows about these acts of ‘paid patriotism.’ Earlier this spring, contracts between the Department of Defense (DoD) and certain professional sports teams came to light (72 to be exact), totaling $6 million in taxpayer dollars.
So where IS this money coming from?
A few of the sports teams claim they’ve never accepted money from the DoD, while others aren’t sure. The National Football League (NFL), sent a letter to Congress advising they are launching their own external audits to see if money was exchanged; if it was, the NFL says it will be refunded.
Well that’s all nice and polite, but I’m still wondering where the money is coming from?
The National Military Family Association has been fighting tooth and nail since before Sequestration took effect in 2014, for Congress to stop balancing the budget on the backs of military families.
Commissaries had to close down, military treatment facilities (MTFs) weren’t fully staffed, and military spouses were sending their service members overseas without proper equipment or training, all because there wasn’t enough money in the budget.
But somewhere, in that budget they couldn’t balance, was money to pay professional sports teams for patriotic displays before games?
Here’s where I’m on the fence: The future of our military force is in dire straits, and any form of recruiting is a necessary evil.
Service members and their families are packing up their toys and leaving; the benefits don’t seem so great to some, and the sacrifice doesn’t seems worth it to others. More military families are getting out and transitioning back to civilian life.
The military already has multimillion dollar ‘displays’ intact for recruiting future service members—demonstration teams like the US Navy Blue Angels, and the US Air Force Thunderbirds have been wowing crowds and inspiring America’s youth to give back to their country through military service for 69 years, and 62 years, respectively.
But are these recruiting tools working? Are other forms of ‘paid patriotism’ really needed?
Senator Flake doesn’t think so. He told ABC News, “These [sports] teams do a lot of good work. The problem is when activities like this are paid for by the tax payer, it cheapens everything else they do and that’s why it ought to go away.”
What will happen if the DoD really is paying for these ‘advertisements?’ And who should be held accountable?
I want to know what in the world is going on… or I’m jumping over the fence and rushing the field.
Do you think about the Department of Defense paying for these ‘acts of patriotism?’ Share your thoughts in the comments!