NFL to Veterans: Screw You

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Here lies the extent of our Super Bowl XLIX coverage: $1 more for the cause.

By Kyle Magin

One of the NFL’s shittier make-nice efforts is its in-your-face pseudo-patriotism.

In this weekend’s Super Bowl, the league will wrap itself in the flag—you’ll probably see a full-on colorguard, a military jet fly-over and some sort of we salute the troops messaging throughout the game.

It’s blatantly disingenuous, because Sunday’s game is in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and the University of Phoenix screws military veterans.

Here’s who the NFL is going to wave the flag with on Sunday:

The University of Phoenix is an expensive for-profit college that takes $2 out of every $3 spent by U.S. taxpayers on the GI Bill—which is designed in large part to finance military veterans’ educations.

In 2013, roughly $10 billion was spent on the bill. It’s one of the great social experiments of all time, widely credited as a major factor in the post-WWII boom in prosperity in the United States as 2.2 million men—many from underprivileged backgrounds—returned from their respective combat theaters to college campuses across the country. Historians say the economic impact is nearly incalculable.

The bill’s in shitty shape today, though, largely thanks to the vampires who run the University of Phoenix and for-profit schools like it.

The problem with for-profits is they aren’t beholden to anyone to maintain things like respectable graduation rates or ensure their graduates go on to jobs in the fields they graduate from precisely because there is no public oversight.

In California, where you helped finance $600 million in total GI bill spending in 2013, the University of Phoenix only graduates 15 percent of its veterans.

The school has been the recipient of nearly $1 billion in taxpayer funding in the Golden State over the last five years alone. More than one-quarter of vets default on loans they take out on top of the $19,000 a year they get from the GI Bill to attend the University of Phoenix within three years of leaving the school.

They’re ending up in exactly the kind of blue collar jobs they could get without their hard-earned (for once the preceding term is not a cheap cliché) GI bill money.

What does the NFL have to do with all this?

It’s about to host its biggest event—the world’s biggest one-day sporting event—in a stadium named after the very institution sucking up all that money and giving our veterans almost nothing for it. And worse—it’ll drum up some veterans and active-duty types to march the flag out to the 50 yard line.

It’ll instruct its camera crews to close-up on their faces during the anthem (tears, please!) and generally make sure you know that for all the fuck-ups on domestic violence, drugs and plundering of the public coffers it does, the NFL supports our troops. The University of Phoenix will get namechecked, and I’m guessing here, but at least a dozen times during the telecast, not to mention any ads the school buys.

It’s tremendous advertising for an institution that spends big money to lure veterans into its scam.

The NFL doesn’t give a shit. It uses the troops as red, white and blue cheerleaders, an easy emotional lever to pull on its viewers before it douses them with ads for domestic beers and pickups. That it’s getting into bed with someone who robs veterans blind is of no concern.

Just tune in for the fucking anthem and stick around for the commercials.

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  1. Just how the On-Line education systems works is somewhat interesting, one assumes with all the commercials on everywhere somebody making some big money.