By Ken Reed
Many of you have probably attended a professional sporting event in stadiums and arenas across the country and seen the salutes to members of the military on the giant Jumbotron. It’s an emotional scene.
Unfortunately, in the case of the NFL, the whole thing is a sham.
As an example, during timeouts at New York Jets football games, as part of a “Hometown Heroes” segment, the Jumbotron camera zooms in on a U.S. Soldier or two. The soldiers smile and wave to the crowd and everyone stands and cheers.
The reality is the whole thing is an advertisement paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
From 2011 to 2014, the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million for salutes like the Jets’ Hometown Heroes promotion, along with other forms of advertising at NFL games. The vast majority of the marketing was for the National Guard.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said that when you go to sporting events and see teams honoring military heroes “you get a good feeling in your heart. Then to find out they’re doing it because they’re compensated for it … it seems a little unseemly.
“They realize the public believes they’re doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism,” said Flake. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
Bad taste indeed.
The greedy, profit-at-all-costs opportunists in the NFL, along with the military leaders that signed off on this phony public service scam, should be ashamed of themselves.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report