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Sports, Military Share Strong Connection in U.S.

Sports Illustrated reports that “Americans love their military, and Americans love their sports. The parallel between those attachments is irresistible. Here are two cultures bound by rule and hierarchy, animated by youth and steeped in history. They both work in teams, train relentlessly and thrive on aggression. Both apply strategy and, to varying degrees, force, in pursuit of a common goal: victory. ‘Sports and military,’ says outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, ‘have been close for a long, long time now.'”

“Over the past 15 years, with American servicemen and women engaged in seemingly endless campaigns overseas, the country’s military and sports cultures have pulled even closer. Early expressions of post-9/11 resilience—the field-sized American flags, the fighter jet flyovers, the troop tributes and camouflage uniforms—have hardened into set pieces. Military Appreciation Night, it seems, is now every night.”

“Not everyone, though, is rooting for this relationship, one that might be called—to borrow from that old general and avid golfer, Dwight D. Eisenhower—the military-sports complex. During a mid-September episode of HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher lamented that sports had turned into ‘celebrations of militarism.’ Maher evoked ‘the flyovers of the jets and all that b——-‘ that some have criticized as ‘paid patriotism,’ star-spangled salutes that have cost taxpayers millions by the reckoning of a 2015 Senate report.”

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