While silent protests are spreading across the NFL and other sporting venues, the viewing base has grown largely irate. People have called Colin Kaepernick an “idiot” and an “uneducated coward.” Fox Sports’ own Clay Travis called Kaepernick a “fucking idiot” and said “his decision to not stand for the national anthem is an insult to anyone with a working brain.” Tomi Lahren spent a large segment of her show on Kaepernick saying he’s a “whiny, indulgent, attention-seeking crybaby.”
Yet, these reporters, and many other (obviously highly intelligent) angry Americans may be surprised to remember that it is a relatively new practice for the NFL teams to even be on the field during the national anthem. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed the practice began in 2009, adding “as you know, the NFL has a long tradition of patriotism. Players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem.”
However, the plot thickens. In a joint report titled “Tackling Paid Patriotism,” senators John McCain and Jeff Flake uncovered that the NFL and other organizations were paid to promote patriotism for recruitment purposes, paid for by the military using taxpayer money.
“Along with sports fans across America, I was appalled to learn last month that many of the ceremonies honoring members of our armed services at NFL games are not actually being conducted out of a sense of patriotism, but for profit in the form of millions in taxpayer dollars going from the Department of Defense to wealthy NFL franchises,”
The report details blatant waste and abuse and may be little more than a “taxpayer-funded boondoggle,”
Unfortunately, contrary to the public statements made by DOD and the NFL, the majority of the contracts—72 of the 122 contracts we analyzed—clearly show that DOD paid for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer games. These paid tributes included on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches͕ and puck drops. The National Guard paid teams for the “opportunity” to sponsor military appreciation nights and to recognize its birthday. It paid the Buffalo Bills to sponsor its Salute to the Service game. DOD even paid teams for the “opportunity” to perform surprise welcome home promotions for troops returning from deployments and to recognize Wounded Warriors.
Meanwhile, the National Guard Bureau and Army National Guard announced a $101 million shortfall and experienced issues paying their own soldiers.
“The NFL raked in revenues totaling some $9.5 billion dollars last year,” McCain said. “The absolute least they can do to begin to make up for this misjudgment is return those taxpayer dollars to charities supporting our troops, veterans, and military families.”
The loudest opponents of these silent protests may also be surprised to learn our government has repeatedly cut services to veterans.
In 2015’s Veterans Affairs Funding Bill, the house appropriations subcommittee met with VA Secretary Bob McDonald to remove more than $1.4 billion in veteran services from President Obama’s proposed budget. Those cuts included more than $690 million earmarked for direct VA medical care and construction projects. It’s estimated that 70,000 veterans would be unable to receive proper care due to these cuts.
In a 2014 bill proposed by Bernie Sanders, the Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act, would have expanded healthcare and education for veterans. The bill was hijacked by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who attached an amendment to the bill which would have levied sanctions on Iran.
While arguing over the proposed amendments, Republicans took to the floor to raise concerns over the cost of the bill, where it was ultimately defeated.
How can we honestly be upset about the alleged disrespect for our troops and veterans by a few sports players not standing for the anthem, when we can’t even adequately support them? Our taxpayer dollars are going to the NFL, when they should be going to supporting our troops, both active and retired.