Sports: The Next Frontier of Foreign Influence in America

Athletes like the PGA Tour golf players are role models,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) at a Senate hearing on July 11 concerning the proposal wherein the government of Saudi Arabia would become the primary financier of a merger between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour. “They are ambassadors of our values. … To have them taken over by a repressive regime certainly is a matter of our national security.”

Blumenthal cut through the noise surrounding this controversial deal and underscored what’s really at stake: We’re entering the next frontier of America’s long-standing fight against malign foreign influence. 

After all, we are a nation founded upon resistance to foreign influence. After defeating the British, George Washington cautioned the fledgling nation that “history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” But nearly 250 years later, America is awash in foreign influence. 

The statistics are stunning. Foreign powers spend more than a half billion dollars every year on lobbying and public relations firms. Dozens of former senators and representatives and hundreds of former high-ranking U.S. military officers are on their payrolls. They donate tens of millions of dollars every year to influence the nation’s top think tanks and give billions to America’s colleges and universities. And, of course, this doesn’t include the influence foreign powers wield through the trillions of dollars in foreign direct investment, including authoritarian regimes and kleptocrats from RussiaChinaQatarSaudi Arabia, and elsewhere investing heavily in U.S. real estate.

Read the full piece in Sports Business Journal.