An amendment to the 2013 defense funding bill introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that would have banned U.S. military services from using sporting leagues as a recruiting avenue was rejected on Wednesday night by the House of Representatives in a 216 to 202 vote. This means sponsorships across all forms of sports and motorsports will not be outlawed.
Kingston and McCollum argued on Wednesday in the House of Representatives for backing of their amendment that would save the $608 billion defense spending bill $72.3 million.
The amendment targeted all sports but the bid discussion hinged largely on the National Guard, who sponsors NASCAR's most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 car in the Sprint Cup Series. Kingston said that in 2010 the National Guard spent $26.5 million to sponsor Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports car but that money did not help produce recruits. He also claimed that 69 percent of NASCAR's audience is above the maximum age for enlistment in the military so it doesn't make sense for military services to be throwing money away.
Others argued against the amendment.
"The most popular driver in NASCAR drives the National Guard car," Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) said. "We don't need to strike that relationship. We need to build on that."
Earlier this month the U.S. Army decided not to renew their contract with Stewart-Hass Racing sponsoring Ryan Newman's No. 39 car for the 2013 season and beyond as it looks like they will be getting out of the sport. McCollum cited this as evidence that military sponsorships in sports do not work.
"Over the past few days, professional sports have come out in full force to protect their taxpayer-funded subsidy," McCollum said. "For the purposes of the 2013 defense appropriations bill, those pro teams are military contractors, who have failed to deliver on their contract in the past with the taxpayers for recruits."
On Monday of this week sports leagues including came together and wrote a letter to House Republican and Democratic leaders imploring them to allow sponsorships to continue. The letter seemed to work.
"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 missions and objectives that serve our country," the letter that was from NASCAR, IZOD IndyCar series, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association read.
That letter and the argument put forward by those opposing the amendment won out on Wednesday night.