The U.S. House passed a resolution rejecting what lawmakers are calling "paid-for patriotism" on Friday. The decision follows the release of a report on government waste submitted by Arizona Sen. John McCain — that report took note of the $49 million the National Guard paid for professional sports sponsorship in 2014.
NJ.com has also reported that the advertising contract between the New York Jets and the New Jersey National Guard includes the team's "Hometown Hero" segment — that's when a service person is introduced at a game and fans stand and cheer. It's supposed to be a feel-good moment. But should it be one that's bought and sold?
Michael Cygan has experienced what it's like to be honored at a major sporting event. Cygan, who now works in the private sector, served in the army from 2001 to 2007 as a captain in the infantry and was twice deployed to Iraq.
Cygan is also a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder and was honored at a recent game at Wrigley Field.
"It was fantastic," Cygan told Only A Game's Bill Littlefield. "It felt great to have 30,000-plus standing up and cheering and thanking me for my service. It was a special moment that I will take with me."
When asked by Only A Game if they have taken sponsorship money for their segment honoring military personnel and veterans, the Cubs did not respond. But the organization does not appear on any of the lists of teams that have received money.
"Them profiting off of that recognition does seem to be a little bit disingenuous," he said.
Many teams are now saying that the money they received was to cover advertising for recruitment efforts and that the on-the-field tributes to soldiers and veterans are done for free. (The Jets are one of the teams to make this claim).
"I'm not inclined to believe the NFL teams or the other teams that take the money," Cygan said. "Money trumps all in this day and age and if [teams] find a way to exploit the [Department of Defense] or to gain money then I think they are going to take it.”
After this interview aired, the Chicago Cubs responded to our request for information saying, "We don't accept money to honor military heroes."
This segment aired on May 16, 2015.