So much for fiscal conservatism. It turns out that Vice President Mike Pence’s NFL walkout last year proved to be quite costly for United States taxpayers.
Nearly a year ago, Pence attended an NFL game featuring the Indianapolis Colts against the San Francisco 49ers. The Vice President and his wife went to the event to watch the Colts franchise honor quarterback Peyton Manning. Instead, Pence decided to make a political statement by walking out — along with his wife and security team — when players from the 49ers kneeled during the National Anthem. Players who take a knee ostensibly do so in protest of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States.
According to a Yahoo Sports report, the walkout ended up having a substantial cost. In consideration of the operating costs of Air Force Two alone, the price tag to taxpayers was at least $250,000 — based on the $43,000 an hour it costs to operate the plane. However, when $75,000 for Secret Service lodging is added in, the cost rose to at least $325,000 just for Pence’s team. The figure doesn’t include the costs for local security.
After the event, which now appears to have been planned instead of spontaneous, Pence took to Twitter to express why he left. He tweeted, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
— Donna F. (@AlwaysLIGal) October 7, 2018
Shortly after Pence’s remarks on social media, President Donald Trump also tweeted, “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
Since then, neither the President of the United States nor the Vice President has attended an NFL game. This means that Pence’s political convictions have not cost taxpayers any more public monies — at least as far as this subject is concerned.
Not only did the move cost a lot of money, but it also managed to stir up a divisive topic which had started to die down by week five of last year’s NFL season. Lately, NFL players have not taken to kneeling as frequently or in such large numbers as the year previous. Even so, when a few dared do so this year, President Donald Trump spoke out against them again.
In August during the preseason games, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love……”
That sentiment was just one in a series of tweets that the president sent out decrying the players’ protest. It would appear that the seeping influence of politics into the realm of professional sports continues somewhat unabated.