The National Football League announced that it has not engaged in talks with the Obama Administration, conflicting with a previous report from the White House. The NFL has also decided that it will not be promoting President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, his 2010 healthcare reform The Affordable Care Act.
Republicans have doubled down their efforts to pressure professional sports leagues to ignore the requests of the White House to help promote Obama Care. The efforts have been lead by the top two republican U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas. Both men wrote to six professional sports organizations, including the NFL in an effort to warn them of the dangers of promoting Obama Care.
“Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the (health care law), it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion,” the Senators warned the recipients of the letters.
The letters warning against the promotion of Obama Care were sent to not only the NFL, but also to Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Professional Golf Association and NASCAR. Just about every major sports league in the United States received a letter. Why Major League Soccer (MLS) was left out of the equation is unknown.
Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, described the leagues decision not to help promote Obama Care in a statement to senators. “We currently have no plans to engage in this area and have had no substantive contact with the administration.”
Towards the end of June, United States Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, stated the opposite was going on. She reported that the White House had actively been seeking the aid of six professional sports leagues to help promote Obama Care, including the NFL. They especially wanted the NFL to help promote Obama Care because their fan base consists largely of healthy young men, a demographic that’s enrollment in new insurance policies starting on October 1 is considered to be a crucial factor in the law’s success. She also reported that the NFL was “actively and enthusiastically engaged” in talks with the White House on June 24.
Republicans have enthusiastically opposed the law since its implementation in 2010, and continued to fight it going into effect. Popular belief among the party is that the cost of health care will drastically rise after the law is in full effect, although that is not fully known. The belief that repealing the law would benefit the nation as a whole is also a popular one among republicans.
The effort to prevent sports leagues from launching an ad campaign supporting the already ratified law are ramping up due to major portions of the law to be carried out in early 2014.
Although it may seem odd that the government is considering teaming up with a sports league, they have acted as sponsors in the past. NASCAR and the Army and Air Force have long been partners, however the Army recently ended its sponsorship with the sport.
Republicans have seemingly pressured the NFL into not promoting Obama Care, as the league has said they have no plans to do so in the aftermath of republican Senators sending the league a letter urging them to do so. Kathleen Sebelius has stated the opposite was happening just a week ago, so perhaps the decision will be reversed once again. For now at least, it seems we won’t be watching healthcare commercials during NFL games this season, with the league deciding not to help promote Obama Care.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express