More often than not, the military salutes at professional sporting events are the result of contracts between the Department of Defense and and the home team, who—and I’m going out on a limb here—could probably spare a few hundred-thousand dollars.
News broke in April that the New England Patriots and New York Jets’ weekly salutes to local servicemen and women were paid for with taxpayer money. In a joint oversight report released Wednesday, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake took a closer look at “paid patriotism” and the $6.8 million of taxpayer money the Department of Defense has spent on sports marketing contracts since fiscal year 2012.
“By paying for such heartwarming displays like recognition of wounded warriors, surprise homecomings, and on-field enlistment ceremonies, these displays lost their luster,” the pair wrote in the report’s introduction. “Unsuspecting audience members became the subjects of paid-marketing campaigns rather than simply bearing witness to teams’ authentic, voluntary shows of support for the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform.”
In response to their findings, McCain and Flake introduced an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, effectively banning taxpayer-funded salutes to the troops.
“The DoD’s complete lack of internal controls for awarding, managing, and overseeing these contracts puts them at an excessive risk for waste, fraud, and abuse,” McCain and Flake wrote. “Beyond being a question of it this contracting activity reflects appropriate judgment or fiscal stewardship of taxpayer funds, the fundamental question at hand is if this spending reflects appropriate national security priorities.”
So how much did Boston sports teams receive since FY2012, and what perks and salutes did they provide on the taxpayers’ dime?
The report also commends work done by individual players to salute the troops, including former Patriots tackle Matt Light’s visit to Greece and Afghanistan in 2013, and tight-end Benjamin Watson’s visit to U.S. bases throughout the Persian Gulf in 2007.
You can read McCain and Flake’s full report here.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/11/05/boston-sports-teams-honor-troops/
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