I have, at least as far as I can tell, never been paid to be patriotic.

I mean, it’s not as though I’ve wanted to be paid to hang a flag outside my house or meet a returning group of veterans or write in support of taking care of the soldiers we send off to war in perpetuity. It’s just that I never realized it was a possibility. Or, for that matter, something that required any red-blooded American be paid to do.

But according to a Senate report released this week, major sports teams – some of whom have multimillion dollar bank accounts – were paid to host events supporting our troops and veterans. In fact, “paid patriotism” has been the rule, not the exception, since 2012, and the government has spent more than $6 million of taxpayer money on it.

The Department of Defense has been slammed for wasting taxpayers’ money after they gave $6.8million to some of the richest sports teams, just so they could honor troops.

Multimillion dollar franchises in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS have received huge sums of government funds for so-called ‘paid patriotism’ since 2012, including ceremonial first pitches, puck drops and color guard performances.

A damning Senate report has criticized the scheme of marketing ‘gimmicks’ as ‘unnecessary’ and a ‘abuse’ of government funds that could instead be used to help veterans and other military programs.

Franchises have also been paid to have a National Guard member sing the national anthem and to recognize wounded warriors during a game. 

Sports fans and millions of Americans have contributed to the expenses, including $20,000 given to the New York Jets to honor ‘Hometown Heroes’ and $49,000 to the Milwaukee Brewers for the Wisconsin National Guard to sponsor Sunday performances of God Bless America.

The most ironic? The New England Patriots are one of the biggest money hounds, netting a whopping $700,000 in DOD cash, just to host supportive events for returning military (though their owner, Bob Kraft, is worth $4.8 billion). They’re eclipsed only by the Atlanta Falcons, who got around $800,000. NASCAR, as a whole, was given more than $1 million to host supportive events at races across the country.

Now, the results are nice, of course. Troops are welcomed to drop pucks and throw out first pitches; color guards are welcomed on to the field before matches. But aren’t we supposed to be doing all of this anyway? It’s insulting that some of the nation’s largest organizations need to be told – and worse, paid – to pay homage to the sacrifices our troops have made in the line of duty.

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