The practice known as "paid patriotism," first uncovered by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, has become a pretty big scandal.
According to Politico, the practice has cost the American public millions of dollars, as military organizations have paid sports teams to host soldiers and their families, display giant American flags and more.
The Bruins were one of six NHL teams mentioned in the report, which you can read in its entirety on Deadspin.
The Bruins' contract was with the Massachusetts Army National Guard; the team was paid $280,000 over the course of the contract, which appears to have stretched from FY2012-FY2013.
The Bruins were paid for the following:
The report states that the items listed above aren't necessarily the entire list.
Why is this a problem? From the senators themselves:
By paying for such heartwarming displays like recognition of wounded warriors, surprise homecomings, and on-field enlistment ceremonies, these displays lost their luster. Unsuspecting audience members became the subjects of paid-marketing campaigns rather than simply bearing witness to teams’ authentic, voluntary shows of support for the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. This not only betrays the sentiment and trust of fans, but casts an unfortunate shadow over the genuine patriotic partnerships.
Before everyone piles on Jacobs, keep in mind that in most cases, the government approached these teams seeking to make a "marketing" deal.
While it's true that the teams could have refused the money, the onus of responsibility here probably falls on those giving away American tax dollars for what amounts to an in-game ad campaign.
The good news is that it appears the Bruins and MAARNG ended their contract over two years ago.
Also, the report doesn't mention things like the recognition of a military member at every home game, or the emotional reunion of a solider and his family a few years back (though a cynic could point out the fact that the reunion may have occurred during FY2012).
As of the publishing of this post, the Bruins haven't released any sort of statement explaining their involvement, though they probably will at some point.
Again, to be clear: this doesn't mean the Bruins don't support the troops, or that everything they've done to be "patriotic" has been fake. All it means is that at some point, the government approached the Bruins with money to put on some kind of military display.
Thoughts? Who bears more responsibility here: the team taking the money, or the military offering it?
EDIT (7:50 PM): Per MissMuse in the comments, the Bruins did indeed issue a statement via email. From Puck Daddy:
"We have in-game salutes to military personnel that we started on merit without sponsors. Since starting these programs various sponsors have signed on for their advertising purposes. If we do not have a sponsor for these salutes in the future, we plan to continue them on the same merit on which they originated."