The National Football League has admitted that $723,734 in taxpayer money was spent on military tributes during games. Last year Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) revealed that the Defense Department paid professional sports teams to host in-game ceremonies as a way to recruit young men and women into the military. The league reportedly received large sums of money in exchange for honoring military members during game-day activities. In a shocking turn of events the NFL has agreed to return every dollar spent on in-game military tributes.
The NFL and the federal government faced major backlash when it was revealed that taxpayer money was spent on military tributes. Citizens were outraged that federal funds were spent on what they considered to be thinly-veiled advertisements for the military. The NFL decided to hire an independent firm to audit their financial records to see just how much money was spent on these tributes so it could be returned.
The money being returned only pertains to funds spent on tributes. The NFL reportedly received $5 million from the federal government last year. Most of that money was spent of straightforward advertising. However nearly $723,734 of that $5 million was spent on tributes to service members in the form of seat upgrades and elaborate displays.
Neither Flake, McCain, the NFL or many fans have any moral or ethical objections with paying the NFL for advertisements, as long as it is clear that they are advertisements. The federal government plans to continue paying the NFL to advertise for the military but will no longer be compensating them for in-game tributes. Flake explains his moral obligation in the following quote stated in a recent interview:
“Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes You get a good feeling in your heart. Then to find out they’re doing it because they’re compensated for it, it leaves you underwhelmed. It seems a little unseemly.”
The NFL is being celebrated for its transparency on the issue. Government officials are hoping that other professional sports leagues follow in the NFL’s footsteps and calling the act a statement that shows the NFL is truly the most patriotic league in the U.S. McCain said in a statement:
“The other organizations – Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer – should also conduct an audit and return the money or donate it to service members, veterans and their families,”
To prevent further incidents McCain and Flake have worked to pass a provision that will prohibit the governement from paying sports leagues to honor military members during games in the future. The will continue to pay the NFL to advertise the military’s recruitment efforts but will no longer include in-game tributes in the budget.