Government Paid Pro Sports Teams $6.8 Million To Honor Military At Games

According to a recently released report, the United States Department of Defense paid roughly $6.8 million of taxpayer funds to professional sports franchises to recognize the military at games and events.

That amount was spent over the last four years, according to a report published today by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, who began investigating the DOD's spending of tax dollars following the discovery the New Jersey Army National Guard paid the New York Jets $115,000 to honor soldiers at games.

According to the senators' report, 72 of the 122 professional sports contracts analyzed showed examples of "paid patriotism," or public tax dollars used for military honors in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS.

The report read,

Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer.

Here are some key takeaways from today's report:

  • The Atlanta Falcons took more DOD money than any team in sports ($879,000 from 2012 to 2015).
  • The New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens each received no less than $500,000 during that time.
  • Fifty professional sports franchises across the five major US leagues engaged in these type of contracts with the military.
  • Eighteen NFL teams took in no less than $5.6 million total.
  • Ten MLB teams took in almost $900,000.
  • Eight teams from both the NBA and MLS had deals similar to those of the MLB, six NHL teams received funds and NASCAR was paid $1.56 million by the Air Force.

At a news conference today, the senators stated professional sports leagues were far more cooperative than the Pentagon. In terms of uncovering the truth about spending, they described the Pentagon as "unusually and especially aggressive when trying to withhold this information."

First a $43 million gas station, and now this. Not a great week for the DOD.

Citations: Pentagon Paid Up To $6.8 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Pro Sports Teams For Military Tributes (Huffington Post), Tackling Paid Patriotism (John McCain)