January 23, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII and the "Hired Help"

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has chimed in on this policy fiasco with the NFL.

Granted this may be as someone else has already said, a simply policy snafu, concerning floor space. And wearing the uniform of one’s country does not grant you special privileges, or guarantee you free stuff. However, in this case it simply is the thought that counts.

But, and there always seems to be a but in there these days, what really is a kick in the pants for me is that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp is most likely planning on spending millions of dollars to advertise during that game, and the NFL and NBC are going to take that money and run!

I don’t know who to be more angry at, the NFL who is using our guys and girls in uniform to present the colors and then hustling them out of the stadium, or the PR execs of the Armed Services.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com is writing that in an email to him from NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello, that this is not a new policy of the NFL:
“The members of the Color Guard have always been our guests at a Super Bowl party in a compound on the stadium grounds where they watch the game on big-screen TVs and enjoy food and beverage…”
Florio continues:
“That’s an important point, in our view. Because the outrage is being stoked by the contention that something has changed, presumably due to the economy. Well, nothing has changed. Per the league, this is the way it has always been done.

‘The military provides an intra-service Color Guard as part of our pre-game tribute to the military that also includes the military fly-over of the stadium,’ Aiello said. ‘Then we arrange a place for the Color Guard to watch the game along with other pre-game and halftime show participants (more than 2,000 people).’

Aiello added that the league has heard no complaints or concerns from the military, and that the league will contact the military liaison for the Color Guard to discuss the situation, if there are any concerns about it.

For now, however, the league office seems to be surprised by the contention that it isn’t adequately supporting the military.

‘Our longstanding support of the military is a proud NFL tradition,’ Aiello said, ‘including numerous NFL players and coaches traveling overseas with the USO to visit troops. Last summer, Commissioner Goodell, Drew Brees, and Osi Umenyiora went on a USO trip to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen.’”

Well Mike, I don’t think anyone has ever thought this was due to a sagging economy but rather due to a pervasive belief by our men and women in uniform that our men and women in uniform are quite regularly being expected to act like perfect little children, and that being that they should be seen but not heard. It is a well known fact that the NFL is a big supporter of our Armed Forces, their sports figures and cheerleaders regularly make trips overseas to support the men and women in uniform, but if this is how they really show their appreciation, then please lets be upfront about it and not try to sugar coat it. Corralling the color guard into a compound on the grounds so that they can watch the game on a big screen TV, with the rest of the hired entertainers, isn’t much of a gesture of support.

The Color Guard are not hired help nor are they entertainers; they are honored guests presenting our nations colors, a symbol of the nation that they serve and sacrifice for on a daily basis. As I stated earlier, the wearing of our country’s uniform should and does not guarantee upon you special benefits, nor should it guarantee you admission to any special event, but these men and women are being invited to be there in the course of their duty. Yes seating for this game is not cheap, where tickets have a face value of between $800 and $1000 each, but with ad revenue streaming in at $3 million for a 30 second spot, $12,000 of lost ticket revenue, so the Color Guard can stand on the sidelines, is a drop in the bucket, especially when the NFL and NBC can agree to insert as many commercial breaks as they see fit.

More to follow….

1 comment:

Jason said...

Just like in years past, the Color Guard will be allowed to join in the game entertainment in a private room with food, beverages, and big screen TVs and with the entertainers. This not only allows them to see the game closer, but also allows them a chance to mingle with some other people and post the Colors in safe place. As a Color Sergeant (the one who commands and controls a Color Guard) I am disappointed in the actions of the whiners. My team has done numerous events that are even rarer than the Super Bowl and the only thanks they got was when we got back to our vehicle and I told them they did a good job. A Marine's self worth and pride of mission accomplishment is worth more than any ticket, and they get that with the rush that comes with carrying your agency's Colors in front of tens of thousands of people live and millions watching on TV. With that being said, I am glad that the NFL is sticking to their guns and keeping with what they did in the past.