The National Guard is apparently not leaving racing without a fight.
Just three days after the U.S. Army announced that it was dropping its $8.2 million sponsorship of NASCAR, the National Guard put out a statement defending its sports sponsorships.
The statement – attributed to Major General (Ret.) Gus L. Hargett Jr. – acknowledged that further cutting the budget might look good on paper, but that ending high-profile sponsorships like the one the Guard has with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports would hurt recruiting.
The link between military recruiting and motorsports is temporary. The results prove it's a match that works today. It may not in the future when other approaches may provide a better payoff.
“There is an effort underway in Congress to prohibit the U.S. military from sponsoring professional motorsports as part of military recruiting,” the statement read. “On the surface, this may seem like a good idea in the face of current fiscal challenges. But a closer look reveals that such a ban would provide no real savings and only serve to hinder Defense Department efforts to reach the most qualified potential recruits.”
The statement went on to say that racing attracts quality recruits for the Armed Forces and that while that fact may be a temporary condition, the Guard intends to mine that vein while it can.
“Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn't what it used to be. Television advertising no longer carries the payoff it once did,” General Hargett wrote. “Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them. The link between military recruiting and motorsports is temporary. The results prove it's a match that works today. It may not in the future when other approaches may provide a better payoff. And that's the point.”
The National Guard has already slashed its sponsorship budget for 2013, dropping its expenditure to $24 million – down from $54 million in 2012.