(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) commended their colleagues for approving their amendment to stop using taxpayer dollars to pay professional sports leagues to honor our nation’s service men and women at sporting events. Yesterday, the Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 which includes the McCain-Flake-Blumenthal amendment. The amendment further encourages leagues that have accepted funds in the past to return those dollars to organizations that support servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
“Honoring our nation’s heroes should be done without fattening the bottom lines of big sports businesses and the approval of our amendment will end this egregious practice – the practice of paying for patriotism is a disservice to our veterans’ service and sacrifice,” said Blumenthal. “The millions of dollars paid to promoters and profits should go instead to help the great heroes who have kept us free and made us strong. Sports leagues should continue to honor our hometown heroes because it is the right thing to do, and should direct any taxpayer funds they have received to organizations serving our soldiers, veterans, and their families.”
“I’m proud that this year’s National Defense Authorization Act prohibits the Department of Defense from spending American tax dollars to honor our troops at professional sporting events,” said McCain. “We should be honoring our service members out a sense of patriotism, not for profit. I thank Senators Flake and Blumenthal for their work on this effort, and together we call upon professional sports leagues to send these profits where they belong – the charities supporting American troops, veterans and their families.”
“Fans should not be unknowing viewers of a paid-marketing campaigns and I look forward to seeing the practice of paid patriotism come to an end once NDAA is signed,” said Flake. “Professional sports teams do a lot of good for our military, but paid patriotism on the taxpayers’ dime cheapens true displays of patriotism.”
Last week, Sens. McCain and Flake released a report finding that the Pentagon paid $9 million over the past four years to sports franchises for patriotic events; the taxpayer funds were used to sponsor performances of God Bless America and the National Anthem, flag displays, and recognition for “hometown heroes,” as well as tickets for luxury suites, signed autographs, and cheerleader appearances.