‘Paid pa­tri­o­tism’

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion -

Many fans may as­sume “pa­tri­otic” dis­plays dur­ing games — the sing­ing of the an­them, color guards, and Jum­botron testimonials fea­tur­ing veter­ans and com­bat he­roes — were ar­ranged by the team.

But prior to last year, those dis­plays were largely paid for with tax dol­lars. In Novem­ber 2015, a re­port pre­pared at the be­hest of U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Ari­zona found the Pen­tagon spent $53 mil­lion on mar­ket­ing and advertising ar­range­ments with col­lege and pro­fes­sional sports or­ga­ni­za­tions from 2012 to 2015. Their goal was re­cruit­ment.

Ti­tled “Tack­ling Paid Pa­tri­o­tism: A Joint Over­sight Re­port,” the re­port found the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers and the Green Bay Pack­ers ben­e­fited from Depart­ment of De­fense fund­ing. In 2012 and 2014, the Pack­ers re­ceived $200,000 for:

An op­por­tu­nity to per­form a pregame on­field ac­tiv­ity or cer­e­mony.

One pregame MVP party deck pack­age for 200 Wis­con­sin Army Na­tional Guard sol­diers and their fam­i­lies that in­cluded food, bev­er­ages and a gift.

One co-branded pro­mo­tional item.

On-field half­time en­ter­tain­ment with Tun­draVi­sion video board co­or­di­na­tion.

Fol­low­ing the re­port, the Depart­ment of De­fense banned what it called “paid pa­tri­o­tism” and NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell or­dered an au­dit of all club con­tracts and a re­fund of in­ap­pro­pri­ate pay­ments.

— L.W.

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