MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Veterans Speak Out Against The Militarization Of Sports | Only A Game

Posted by M. C. Fox on July 26, 2018

The MLB All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., this week was so awash in ceremony, it conjured thoughts of an old joke with a new twist: “I went to a military parade and a baseball game broke out.”

Now we need to get all the families to sign these waivers, to waive the rights as licensees for the bracelets that these guys wore.’ And I’m, like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, were not … like, absolutely not.’

“Patrioti$m” in pro sports-same old story, Follow the (taxpayer supplied) Money.

http://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2018/07/20/military-sports-astore-francona

by Howard Bryant

While researching my book “The Heritage,” I was struck by the enormous effect the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have had on sports — how they look, how they’re packaged and how they’re sold. Before 9/11, giant flags and flyovers were reserved for the Super Bowl. Today, they are commonplace. Even the players wear camouflage jerseys. The military is omnipresent. And it’s by design.

The public accepts this as supporting the troops, but one group of individuals — the veterans themselves — is more skeptical. One voice stood out: William Astore’s.

“They bring out a humongous flag,” he says. “Military jets fly overhead, sometimes it’s a B-2 stealth bomber, sometimes it’s fighter jets.”…

“I think, at first, there’s a sort of thrilling feeling,” Astore says. “I’m like all the other fans: a big plane goes overhead — ‘Wow!’ That’s kind of awe inspiring. But at the same time, to me, it’s not something that I see should be flying over a sports stadium before a baseball game or a football game. You know, these are weapons of death. They may be required, but they certainly shouldn’t be celebrated and applauded.”…

In the years following 9/11, professional sports took a healing gesture and transformed it into a way to make money. In 2015, Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake released the report “Tackling Paid Patriotism,” which criticized the deceptive, taxpayer-funded contracts between the Pentagon and virtually every pro sports league. In 2012, the New York Army National Guard paid the Buffalo Bills $250,000 to conduct on-field re-enlistment ceremonies. In 2014, the Georgia National Guard paid the Atlanta Falcons $114,000 to sing the national anthem. In 2015, the Air Force paid NASCAR $1.5 million in part for veterans to shake hands with racing legend Richard Petty. Your tax dollars. At work…

“And, I mean, if you look at kind of the tone of what Memorial Day has become about, it’s pretty gross,” Nick says. “Even on the teams’ official Twitter accounts — a flame emoji for, like, ‘Look how hot these camo hats are.’ And it’s, like, ‘Really, guys? That’s the plan?’ I mean, you can imagine how some of these Gold Star families reacted to that. They were not remotely amused.

“I might have asked the question 100 times and said, ‘OK, if you’re selling a $40 hat, how much of this is going to charity, and where is it going?’ I think it’s fair to say, if you’re an average fan watching Major League Baseball, you’re going to be, like, ‘Man, these guys are really supportive of the military.’ “

This support, Nick says, does not exist within MLB. According to the league’s figures, only 10 of the league’s 5,000 employees are veterans.

“That’s genuinely difficult to accomplish,” Nick says. “Like, if your goal was to hire as few veterans as possible, that’s pretty impressive. I’m almost certain that there’s more than 10. But they’ve really gone out of their way to avoid being able to even identify the veterans. I’ve been arguing that for 10 years. Like, ‘Figure out who they are, so we can support each other and link up and try to address some of these issues.’ And they patently refused to be involved in that.”…

Players, he says, were emotional learning the stories of the dead soldiers from America’s wars. They wore bracelets naming soldiers they were matched with. It was authentic and personal, appropriately respectful of a day commemorating sacrifice.

“So I’m on the flight back, and I get an email from someone with the Mets asking, like, ‘Oh, great job. Now we need to get all the families to sign these waivers, to waive the rights as licensees for the bracelets that these guys wore.’ And I’m, like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, were not … like, absolutely not.’

“They referred to them as ‘license holders.’ The families. And I’m, like, ‘I think you mean parent of dead Marine or soldier.’ Patently offensive. And there was no way I was going to have them sign that and refused to do so. I wanted to know exactly whose bright idea this was and was going to give them a piece of my mind. And that ended it pretty quickly. And the next day was my last day there.

“They called me in and said, ‘You’ve done a great job here, really had a huge impact. You’ve also had a big impact on the veteran stuff with Major League Baseball, but your comments aren’t compatible with having a career in baseball. So we’re going to have to part ways.’ “

The Mets fired him. Nick Francona is now out of baseball….

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