Yesterday the US Senate released a report, co-authored by Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, criticizing the Department of Defense for inappropriate and frivolous spending on military ceremonies at sporting events in an effort to boost marketing through what they are calling "paid patriotism". While much of the DOD's funds were spent on legitimate recruitment efforts, a significant (and undetermined) amount of taxpayer dollars was also spent on paid tributes such as honor guards, staged homecomings, first pitches, and puck drops, ceremonial events that under normal circumstances would be attributed to gestures of good will by the hosting sports organization or its corporate sponsors.
122 marketing contracts between the DOD and professional sports organizations were analyzed for the report. Six of those were NHL teams, and the Hurricanes were one of the six. Sports Illustrated and Puck Daddy reported a detailed listing of the findings for each team, and Mike Sundheim, VP of Communications, provided a statement on behalf of the Hurricanes. To summarize the Hurricanes position:
- The Hurricanes received $75,000 in funds from DOD that were categorized as "paid patriotism" in the report. For comparison, the Minnesota Wild had the highest reported funds of the six NHL teams with $570,000 and the Dallas Stars had the lowest with $34,000. The Bruins, Red Wings, and Panthers were the other three teams with contracts included in the report.
- The items provided by the Hurricanes that fell under the report's "paid patriotism" category included a suite to be used for prospective applicants, pre-game conference room access for presentations, and an autographed team stick (one stick per year for three years of the contract, which ran 2012-2014).
- According to Sundheim, the primary paid services covered by the $75,000 contract were actually commercial spots, game-night sponsorships, and arena signage, and the items identified in the report were added value items supporting the advertising agreement.
- Sundheim also emphasized that the Hurricanes in-game recognitions of military members, Military Appreciation Night, and other programs designed to support and honor the local military are not part of any government contract and are sponsored by the team, the players, or corporate (non-government) sponsors. He recognized the recent "True Defenders" program by Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, and James Wisniewski as an example of the military support provided by player initiative.
- Sundheim's closing comments: "North Carolina is home to major bases for the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force, all within driving distance of Raleigh. The tickets and things we do during games to showcase the military are reflections of our organization's pride in the men and women who live in our home state and devote their lives to defending our country."
Other News and Notes
- Skinner's Slump: TSN's Bob McKenzie is always worth a read or listen on any hockey subject, full of wisdom and insight. He's had a close eye on Jeff Skinner since before his rookie season, and he's a bit perplexed by what he sees in today's version. What has become of the young man who once radiated star quality and offensive artistry? [TSN]
- Rookie Mistake: Noah Hanifin's memorable shift leading to a giveaway and a stick infraction was the turning point in Sunday's loss, and you could see it on the young defenseman's face as he exited the penalty box after the go-ahead goal by Steven Stamkos. But should he even have been on the ice at that point in the game? My friend Patrick Clarke, who plays, referees, coaches, and teaches hockey, weighs in on what perhaps should have happened instead. It's an interesting analysis of an important moment in time [Clarke Hockey].
- The ribbon was cut today and the newly renovated Bojangles Coliseum is open and ready for the Charlotte Checkers home opener Saturday night. Take a look. [WBTV] [Chasing Checkers]
- Michael Smith answers fan questions about 'American' Thanksgiving, 3-on-3 overtime, and Charlotte sports (Checkers and Panthers) in this week's Tweetmail [CH.com].
- Mike Maniscalco and Chuck Kaiton break down the Canes extended home stand and what is working for the team [WRALSportFan].
- Finally, not specific to the Canes, but a great hockey read about life on "The Bubble" as an NHL-AHL tweener [Player's Tribune].