On ‘Radio Times’: ‘Paid patriotism’ partly explains military reverence at sporting events

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In formation and against a blue sky, members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly overhead while Eagles players look on, hands on their hearts, during the national anthem

Members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team perform a flyover before an NFL football game between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

After last week’s comments by President Trump calling athletes “sons of bitches” for kneeling during the national anthem a debate has erupted across the country about the flag, patriotism, free speech, race, and protest.

But other questions have been unearthed including why the anthem is performed at sporting events, and what the connection is between the military and professional sports?

“Part of the reason is because our military pays teams to stage military and patriotic displays,” said Jesse Washington, senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated. He joined Marty Moss-Coane on Radio Times Friday to discuss the national conversation surrounding Kaepernick, Trump, and protests.

“It’s been called “paid patriotism,” and as Senator John McCain said it would be better if we did these things because we felt it was right or true and not because we were paid for it,” said Washington referring to a 2015 Senate report by Sen. McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake which uncovered how much money the military devotes to promoting patriotism at sporting events.

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