NASCAR and IndyCar have co-signed an open letter to U.S. Congress Speaker of the House John Boehner this week, along with the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, urging him to continue to oppose congressional efforts to end sponsorship of sports by the U.S. armed services.
The issue has come up repeatedly since last year, and received new impetus in racing circles when the U.S. Army announced last week that it was ending its sponsorship of Ryan Newman's Sprint Cup entry at the end of this season. IndyCar also benefits from armed services spending, with Panther Racing's entry driven by JR Hildebrand backed by the National Guard.
The letter reads as follows:
July 16, 2012
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
We write to urge your continued opposition to the Kingston-McCollum Amendment to the House DOD Appropriations bill – an amendment that would eliminate the U.S. Armed Forces' use of professional sport sponsorships as a means to achieve military recruiting and retention goals. For good reasons, a similar amendment has already failed twice in the 112th Congress – once by a vote of 148-281 (Roll Call vote #90) and again by a vote of 167-260 (Roll Call vote #512).
Since the end of the civilian draft in 1971, the Services branches, with Congressional support, have employed a range of marketing tools to remain connected to the American people and, in particular, the young men and women whose commitment to our armed forces is critical to defending our freedoms at home and peace around the world. As major companies and nonprofits know well, sports marketing is a unique opportunity to reach young adults. Accordingly, sports marketing has long been an important element in the U.S. Armed Forces' efforts to reach young adults and active duty personnel regarding the military's mission and objectives that serve our country.
Today, while most Americans view military service as admirable, military recruiting is more challenging than ever as young adults are more difficult to reach through traditional media and local channels. Unfortunately, it is in this environment that the military's discretion to use sports marketing has come under attack in Congress. The Kingston-McCollum Amendment to the DOD appropriations bill, which recently passed in the House Appropriations Committee, would place restrictions on the military's ability to leverage sports marketing – its most efficient tool – to reach our young men and women. The amendment would directly inhibit the military's recruiting efforts at and around professional sports events.
Professional sport sponsorships by the Services branches have made a direct impact on military recruiting. For example, in 2010, the Army's recruiting efforts at NASCAR events resulted in 46,000 qualified leads. Similarly, the Services branches' partnerships with the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball and the IZOD IndyCar Series have created numerous points of contact, such as at games and local community events and online, to engage with young adults on the possibilities and rewards of military service. The benefits from these types of sponsorships offset the minimal costs to taxpayers.
Given the success of the military's use of professional sports to reach out to the American people, we encourage you to support the U.S. Armed Forces and enable them to continue to have the same access to media and venues as world leading businesses and nonprofits. Please work to remove the Kingston-McCollum Amendment from the House DOD Appropriations bill.
National Basketball Association
National Football League
Major League Baseball
IZOD IndyCar Series
cc: The Honorable Eric Cantor
cc: The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
cc: The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
cc: The Honorable Steny Hoyer
cc: The Honorable Hal Rogers
cc: The Honorable Norman Dicks
cc: The Honorable Howard McKeon
cc: The Honorable Adam Smith
cc: The Honorable Bill Young