Despite Shutdown, Pentagon Provided Access to Championship Football Games for U.S. Troops


Despite the federal government shutdown, the Department of Defense still provided members of the military with the ability to watch both of the NFL’s conference championship games on Sunday.

The American Forces Network — which airs television and radio broadcasts of games for American soldiers serving abroad — had originally said it would not be able to broadcast the games.

The network is staffed by civilians, who were furloughed Saturday after the Senate was unable to reach a deal to keep the federal government running, according to The Associated Press.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was one of many social media users to lament the fact that a political battle might mean servicemen and women wouldn’t be able to enjoy the games.

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However, the DoD was able to remedy the problem by designating the AFN’s radio and TV broadcasts as “essential activities,” The Washington Post reported.

“Despite the government shutdown, DoD determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities,” chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement. “We will continue to find solutions to support our troops at home and abroad. Congress must come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget soon.”

White said one channel — for news — was able to be turned on. The sports channel was broadcast as well because it didn’t cost any additional “money or manpower.”

“Thanks to uniform leadership at AFN, our comptroller and legal team, we were able to turn on one channel based on operational necessity and FY17 funds had already been paid on the contract,” White stated. “The sports channel was turned on because it doesn’t cost any more money or manpower to manage a second channel.”

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The Pentagon’s decision was noted in another tweet from Sanders, who said she was “Glad our brave men and women can watch the game today.”

The NFL itself was also happy to hear the news.

“We appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it possible for our brave service members around the world to get a taste of home and enjoy today’s games,” said league spokesman Brian McCarthy.

In addition to having the option to watch the playoff games via AFN, servicemembers were able to tune in at United Service Organizations facilities around the world — where the NFL had provided access to its Game Pass service.

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In the games themselves, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings to become champions of the NFC, while the New England Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the AFC.

The Eagles and Patriots will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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