You know when you go to a baseball game and invariably during some inning break the team points out a group of soldiers or national guard members in the stands and tries to get a big round of applause going? That doesn’t just happen.
A new report from Sens. John McCain (R – AZ) and Jeff Flake (R – AZ) revealed that the Pentagon has spent over $10 million in recent years to keep those “shows of patriotism” active across sporting events.
Whether it’s paying for special VIP parking for generals or for some team to show the military’s logo on their jumbotron, these programs are overwhelmingly pay-to-play sponsorship schemes. If 20 members of the military are getting the “Richard Petty ride-along experience,” it comes as part of a $1.5 million annual expenditure.
Interestingly, Congressional leaders seem to be of two minds about this heavily subsidized pretense of a pro-military environment, insisting it is a waste of money but largely expecting the teams to continue the programs irrespective of whether they pay for them.
That’s probably not going to be realistic, particularly in the long run, and while it’s certainly a waste of taxpayer money to have the National Guard buying a block of Red Sox tickets, Congress may be about to learn that in the absence of “paid patriotism” there’s going to be a lot less VIP treatment coming the military’s way.