By now it should be obvious to even the most casual sports fan that professional sports’ patriotic displays must involve more than mere gratitude for service rendered.
They do, a report issued today says.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a report confirming that sports teams are being paid big bucks for patriotic displays.
“It is hard to understand how a team accepting taxpayer funds to sponsor a military appreciation game, or to recognize wounded warriors or returning troops, can be construed as anything other than paid patriotism,” the report says.
The Pentagon has paid more than $9 million to professional sports franchises over the past four years, including $6.8 million to stage “paid patriotism” events, the committee disclosed today.
Here’s how Minnesota teams got a piece of the action from the Minnesota National Guard.
Minnesota Vikings – $375,000
- Color-guard ceremonies in 2014
- Exposure for Minnesota Army National Guard for Soldier of the Game selection on the video board.
Minnesota Timberwolves – $27,000
- Military Appreciation Night at a Lynx game
- A swearing-in ceremony
- One color guard
- A Minnesota National Guard soldier singing the National Anthem.
Minnesota Wild – $570,000
- On-ice appreciation for up to 20 soldiers during the season.
- Color-guard ceremony in which a soldier rappels from the catwalk to deliver the puck
- Recognition of a soldier-of-the-game and flag-bearer highlighted on the scoreboard.
The Wild ranked fourth among all major sports teams in amount of money accepted for patriotic displays.
The report said by focusing so much paid attention on the patriotic displays, they “lost their luster.” It said it casts a shadow over legitimate displays of appreciation for the military.
It also said the Pentagon can’t account for how much it’s spent or how many contracts it has had with teams.
The report is the result of an investigation last year by the Newark Star Ledger on the NFL’s relationship with the Pentagon. At the time it said the Vikings had pulled in more than $600,000 for the displays.