Major League Soccer’s D.C. United have signed on to help promote DC Health Link, the health care exchange that opens in just three weeks as part of Obamacare, President Obama’s major health care reform law. United are the second major franchise to agree to promote the law, after the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens agreed to partner with the state of Maryland to promote an exchange there.
United will promote the law through on-field activities, public address announcements, and tailgating at RFK Stadium, United’s home, during an October 4 home game, Politico reported Thursday.
The Obama administration has sought partnerships with professional sports leagues and teams to help promote the law, to the chagrin of conservative pundits and elected Republicans. After news broke that the White House wanted to partner with the NFL, conservatives expressed outrage on social media and the congressional GOP sent letters to the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, the Professional Golfer’s Association, and NASCAR. As New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait noted today, though, the letters mysteriously left off MLS, a problem that Chait mused was due to the GOP’s “refusal to recognize soccer as a legitimate sport.”
The NFL ultimately decided against an Obamacare partnership even though, as I wrote at the time, such a relationship would have made sense for both the law and the leagues. For one, conservatives weren’t going to quit watching football no matter how much they yelled, and it would have given leagues that value their perception in communities a chance to promote health initiatives much as they promote environmentalism and green initiatives, which many conservatives also generally don’t like. A partnership with the leagues also would have helped the law by allowing its proponents to reach demographics it both needs most and has trouble reaching.
The partnerships with United and the Ravens add to the list of creative promotions the administration and states are using to raise awareness of the law. And even though the GOP will raise noise about United’s participation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other teams agree to help promote Obamacare too.