Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) has blown the whistle on a hypocritical monetary relationship between the military and the NFL (and other sports leagues). Since at least 2009, the Department of Defense has paid sports teams to honor military personnel at games — displays of patriotism that were presumed by fans to be outside the realm of commercial contracts. The money paid to the the New York Jets and other franchises, whose owners are billionaires, comes from U.S. taxpayers. One report at nj.com says the New Jersey National Guard and the Dept. of Defense paid the Jets $377,000 from 2011-14 to honor service men and women. While advertising is necessary for the military, the arrangement — especially since it was hidden — is seen as devaluing the honors.
President Eisenhower warned about the “military-industrial complex” back in 1961. Ike was referring to the close (insidious?) ties between American industry that builds weapons and equipment for the military — and the dangers and potential waste their close relationship presented. We’re used to that now, but with the rise of information as a weapon — soft power, as its known — the military is increasingly spending more money on advertising and PR. The military needs to find its target audience for recruits and reputation management — and that audience is largely found among professional sports fans.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 11, 2015