Today is Veteran’s Day, and with it a culmination of the week that sees the world of sports ramp up the military-industrial complex marketing machine. What at first seemed like a noble way to honor America’s heroes, and in some ways, sometimes still actually is, degenerated into jingoistic, formulaic corporate promotion.
It’s an armed race all right, between sports television networks, leagues, conferences and franchises, to see who can profit off the flag the most..
More via the L.A. Times this week:
The Pentagon and National Guard paid professional sports teams to publicly honor soldiers at sporting events, according to a Senate oversight report released Wednesday that labeled the practice “inappropriate and frivolous.”Since the end of 2011, the military has spent $6.8 million on sports marketing contracts, according to the report, released by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans from Arizona.
“By paying for such heartwarming displays like recognition of wounded warriors, surprise homecomings and on-field enlistment ceremonies, these displays lost their luster,” the report said. It is unclear how much of the money went to paid tributes.In recent years, on-field flag rollouts and other ceremonies saluting military personnel have become commonplace at National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer games around the country. The majority of the contracts analyzed in the report — 72 of 122 — showed that the Department of Defense paid for the tributes that included national anthem performances, ceremonial first pitches, puck drops, color guard presentations and enlistment ceremonies.
I always found something about this trend of sporting-events-doubling-as-enlistment-recruiting-drives to be fishy. It just never passed the proverbial smell test to me.
Given that we actually have a report showing that a lot of what should be heart-warming is actually nothing more than super shilling.
I’m as disillusioned as you are by all this.
In other words, I stand with our military servicemen and women, but I am wholly opposed to how the military has been crassly commercialized.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks