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U.S. Department of Defense

The Pentagon's 'paid patriotism'

"We live in a cynical world," according to Jerry Maguire, the fictional hero in the 1996 movie about a sports agent dealing with a moral epiphany. Turns out, the world might not be quite cynical enough when it comes to sports marketing.

Call us hopelessly naïve, but we were a bit surprised to learn this week about the millions of dollars the U.S. Department of Defense has paid out to professional sports teams to stage events and ceremonies, many of them honoring service men and women prior to games. That a lump-in-the-throat moment like a flag unfurling or a surprise homecoming might have been bought and paid for with tax dollars is disconcerting to say the...