Report: MN Wild raked in $570K for ‘paid patriotism’

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.

  • MrE85

    So what are fans supposed to do when they trot out this stuff? Boo the troops? A serious question.

    • It’s not a question of what fans are supposed to do. It’s a question of what teams are supposed to do.

      If it’s sponsored content, it should be revealed as such.

      • MrE85

        Which is more likely to bring about change in a sports team, angry season ticketholders or a senator from Arizona? If this is a deceptive practice (and I believe that it is), just how should fans call for changes?

        I hold the military at fault as well. They should not pay another sports team one penny for any more of these things. Enough, all ready.

        • MrE85

          Maybe I was wrong about the Senator from Arizona. Saw a report that the NFL is giving back the money it took.

  • tboom

    So McCain doesn’t like the US Army using patriotism as a marketing tool. I happen to agree with him but I can’t help but wonder, had McCain won the Presidency how would he feel about using patriotism to whip up enthusiasm for another war?

    Frankly I’m not so sure we need to start every game with the National Anthem either.

    • >>Frankly I’m not so sure we need to start every game with the National Anthem either.<<

      Well, that's been happening for a century, so…

  • mjenkins

    Has the Minnesota Wild organization responded to the report?

    I wonder how much they have been paid by DoD since they began in 2000….very disappointing.