So those "hometown heroes" segments done to burn the 150 second TV timeouts were not done out of the kindness of the heart, or common courtesy to soldiers who have seen unspeakable tragedies in front of their own eyes in defense of our country? Paid for by the Defense Department, more than likely. The Atlanta Falcons were paid over $1 million for these over 3 season, and 14 NFL teams were paid a total of $4.2 million during the same period. Forget circumstantial evidence about deflated footballs and double standards of a broken justice system, this is where outrage should be directed.
(WARNING: POLITICAL OPINIONS AHEAD) I am not a fan of the military-industrial complex. I am not a fan of the increased militarism in sports. I understand that I have written pieces about how sports and politics are inseparable, and they still are, but outright overt militarism is one part of the sports experience that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's my own biases against war and the like, but if any sports team is to honor soldiers; heroes that they are; it should not be done because the Defense Department needs a helping hand in getting a new recruit. We should honor soldiers because they deserved to be honored for their sacrifice, and no amount of money should remind anyone to do that.
A simple "thank you for your service" is often enough for any veteran to feel appreciated and thanked; they don't need to be trotted out in front of 65,000 fans who didn't want to wait in a long line to grab a hot dog. If you want to be further disturbed, there are contracts between the National Guard and high schools to do much the same thing done at your average New York Jets game. The budget overall last year for recruiting at sporting events, according to a National Guard spokesman, was over $49 million.
That in of itself is not a problem. A volunteer army needs to recruit somehow, and sporting events are not a bad place to try to recruit. The contracts themselves are also not by any means not kosher; it's no different than say MetLife Stadium being named what it is. The key difference, as Olbermann and many others have pointed out, is that MetLife Stadium isn't named that because of admiration for the work of the company. Stadiums are sponsored for the money, and that's made perfectly public. These contracts were not.
The fact that the Defense Department used your tax money to pay sports teams to do something they should either a) be doing on their own accord without incident or b) let be known that these contracts exist is incredibly disturbing to me, and should be to everyone.
The public's sentiments towards the military goes in ebbs and flows, and right now the public and the military have a very cordial relationship. Who is to say, as Olbermann points out, that when the public perception of the military is not where it is now that these contracts won't look even worse then? Even in my sphere, where there is too much overt militarism at sporting events, I am not against honoring the military in public, even if a simple thank you will often suffice.
The government should not have to hide these contracts and have the sports team pass off honoring the military as something done out of good faith. Admitting that the Defense Department has to pay sports teams to do this still should leave a bad taste in your mouth, but at least it is known that a contract has been signed. Once again, MetLife Stadium isn't named that because the Jets and Giants "admire the work of the company".
Many teams honor the military without these contracts, or those contracts haven't been revealed yet.
But pre-packaged, marketed and feigned patriotism using your money to buy off public sentiment and good will towards the military in a time when the military and public have a cordial relationship?
That is the true injustice.