Price of Patriotism? About $10 Million

Giant FlagApparently, there is a price placed on patriotism. With apologies to all my veteran brothers and sisters, our beloved Defense Department forked over about $10 million (and possibly as much as $12 million) to the NFL, MLB and NBA teams to put on patriotic displays. Our same Defense Department who cannot ever seem to improve active duty or veteran’s benefits, spent money at the ball parks to stimulate patriotic fervor.

To compound “this joke,” the leagues and teams took the money. According to CNN Money (November 5, 2015):

“Among the paid events the report flags as questionable were on-field color guard presentations during the national anthem, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, the unfurling of a giant flag by members of the military, and ceremonial first pitches. While many teams held such tributes for the military free of charge, 50 pro teams received money for them, according to the report.”

Oh, and here is the kicker:

“The Defense Department defended its sports marketing efforts as a way to ‘reach a large number people to connect with the American public.’”

In case you are wondering which teams ran to accept the money, the top two winners are the Atlanta Falcons at nearly $880,000 and the New England Patriots at $700,000. However, many athletic teams gladly accepted the patriotic payoffs, and the Defense Department was all too happy to pay them.

The next time your heart is stirred by seeing the giant flag unfurled at a sporting event, your emotions might be tempered by the knowledge that some organization could have very well been paid off to do it.

Two U.S. senators have shut down the pay-offs and the NFL commissioner’s office has now written new policies prohibiting the acceptance of such funds. Had their greedy little rears not been smacked, I doubt this practice would have been stopped.

Connecting with us why?

Members of my family, both men and women, served in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. My closest friend died in combat. I have relatives who suffered from PTSD. Friends of the family suffered injuries. I do not need the Department of Defense connecting with me to bolster my patriotism. I am not at all unique. I would guess that many of you have a similar history.

Yes, I know that patriotism waxes and wanes, that most of us mouth the national anthem and that our homes and businesses are not festooned with flags and bunting on Independence or Memorial Days, but I have full faith we care about where we live and what we stand for. I know we have sharp and tragic divides in this nation. It bothers me greatly. I ask myself daily what I can do to help. How can I be a better person? Maybe Sports Ethics is one way.

Perhaps it is why I love sports so much. We’re not perfect in sports either, but if you have ever played on a team at any level, a lot of lines begin to blur and then they disappear. I wonder if the Defense Department remotely understands that.

However, the Defense Department was just offering. They’re the government and goodness only knows all of the deep, dark valleys, holes and drains where our tax dollars seem to flow. But we do have ethical choices to make in life, and because someone wants to give us money, it does not necessarily mean we have to take it.

The NFL is rich

We do not need much of a debate to acknowledge the NFL is wealthy. So is the NBA and the MLB for that matter.

I am a fan of a smaller market NFL team, and that team just changed ownership. The price tag for buying that small market team was a little over $1 Billion. I shudder to think of the price tag for the Patriots or Jets, the Cowboys, Broncos or the 49ers.

None of these teams need financial assistance. None of the owners are on financial aid programs. They are wildly successful people, and they have, in part, this country to thank. They make money not just on us people in the seats and the over-priced apparel we buy, but on numerous other channels of cash flow.

The teams and owners are successful through their business acumen, no one is denying that, but this country has enabled them to prosper. They should acknowledge that debt without accepting money from the Defense Department. They should do things because it is the right thing to do. It is called good ethics.

(Chuck Gallagher and Bruce Wolk)

For more information:

Chuck Gallagher, President, Sports Ethics LLC  (828) 244-1400

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