CONGRESSMAN BISHOP FIGHTS FOR NATIONAL GUARD ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL SPORTS SPONSORSHIPS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies as well as co-Chair of the Congressional Military Families Caucus, rallied for the National Guard by voting against the McCollum Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. If passed, the amendment would have prohibited the Army National Guard from investing resources in recruiting new soldiers through professional sports sponsorships, specifically professional wrestling, NASCAR, Indy Racing, and American Motorcycle Association. This is the third year in a row that Congressman Bishop has opposed this amendment aimed at weakening the Army National Guard’s ability to recruit the strongest candidates possible.
"It is important that our military maintain access to the most qualified potential recruits available,” said Congressman Bishop. “This amendment does not save any money, it does not address any government excess or impropriety, it unnecessarily attacks our National Guard, and shackles their best opportunity to recruit and retain the very best for our nation. Once again, a vote for this amendment is a vote against the effectiveness of our military."
Much as why NASCAR and other professional sports are understood to be a preferred venue for corporate advertising, our nation’s military realizes the importance and cost-effectiveness of marketing to this large and specific audience. A recent study has found that 90% of Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted since 2007 were exposed to the Guard through recruiting or retention materials featuring NASCAR cars or drivers.
Of those who enlisted or re-enlisted during that time period, 85% agree that professional sports are beneficial to attracting and retaining good soldiers. The survey also found that racing fans are an especially receptive group for National Guard recruiting. NASCAR enthusiasts aged 18-34, the National Guard’s target age demographic, are twice as likely to consider a military career than non-fans.
In addition to marketing, DOD professional sports partnerships have resulted in key transfers of technology. For example, NASCAR has worked with the Marines to improve Humvee suspension systems and develop mine detonating rollers. Both advances have saved Marines’ lives.
According to the National Guard, the amendment would hinder military recruitment of qualified candidates, impair access to employment resources for our nation's military families, and severely damage a positive financial investment for our citizen-soldiers.
The McCollum amendment was defeated in a bi-partisan vote of 134 to 289.
To watch Congressman Bishop’s remarks on the floor opposing the same amendment last year, please click here.