Over the weekend, hundreds of NFL players and employees protested the national anthem in protest of President Trump’s comments on the matter.
What they didn’t expect was the negative response from fans and the hit to their bottom line. The Conservative Tribune reports that DirecTV has announced they will offer full refunds to customers who wish to cancel their NFL packages because of the national anthem protests.
DirectTV is one of the biggest provides of premium entertainment and offers the NFL Sunday Ticket package. This package allows customers from all over to watch the Sunday and night games wherever they want for about $280 a season.
Yet, according to ESPN, following the weekends mass protests the company has decided to change their own policies to allow customers to back out of their NFL packages. They will only allow the refund if the customers state that they are doing so because of the national anthem protests.
This move by DirectTv shows the negative reaction fans of the NFL have had with players protesting the national anthem. The Daily Caller reports numerous fans were upset when players of the New England Patriots protested the national anthem and refused to stand.
One of the Patriots’ fans attending the game, Frank Vessella, told reporters “It’s disrespectful to the United States and to the men who served and fought for this country. It’s a disgrace. They should be standing. I like what the president said. If you’re not gonna stand for this country, you’re fired. Bellichick and Gronkowsi should do something about it. They should fire’em. That’s what they should do.”
Fans of the Buffalo Bills also booed when some of their players took a knee during the national anthem. Many fans also began chanting “USA.”
The controversy has also caused a number of advertisers to become extremely leery of taking a side, according to the Chicago Tribune. Companies like Pepsi, Budweiser, and others appear to be avoiding taking a side on the issue.
This may have something to do with the backlash Under Armour received when it posted a tweet that critics noted changed multiple times since its original post: “@UnderArmour stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America.”
The economic uncertainty following the national anthem protests will no doubt have an affect on how the NFL handles the situation. On the one hand, they can’t impose upon the right to free speech their players have, but at the same time, they and the players will face economic ruin if they don’t respond to the offended fans and concerns of corporate partners.
The Federalist reports that Mike Rowe made this point when asked about the NFL controversy. He felt that fans would ultimately determine how the NFL will handle the issue and how players will behave on the field.
He told reporters “We decide what to watch and that decision – far more than any other consideration – will determine the what the owners choose to do. And that in turn will affect what the players choose to do.”
Rowe went on to say that the NFL players essentially “work for us” and that if fans are upset enough to boycott the games, the protests will stop “if, for instance, a percentage of football fans relative to those players who chose to kneel during today’s games, chose to watch something else next Sunday – I can assure you… the matter would be resolved by Monday.”
DirecTV will offer full refunds to customers who wish to cancel their NFL packages because of the national anthem protests. Will you cancel?
This was the point Trump made in his tweet over the weekend when he said “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
DirectTv announcing refunds for offended fans is evidence of this occurring. The upset fans boycotting games and corporations worried about spending their advertising dollars are going to result in a negative impact on the NFL’s bottom line. While players are obviously allowed the right to free speech and to protest however they wish, it would be foolish for them to think there would be no repercussions for their behavior.
After all, as the inspirational speaker Stephen R. Covey once said: “We’re all free to choose our actions, … but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”