WASHINGTON – 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.