After the national anthem protests last week, fans were quick to reveal their reactions.
Yet instead of the mass support many players were likely expecting, the NFL is receiving massive backlash. According to Breitbart, a Yahoo finance poll revealed that 80 percent of those expected to change their behavior from the protests said they planned to watch less football.
The players’ reasons for protesting the national anthem vary, according to USA Today. It seems the demonstrations largely revolved around three main points: opposing Trump, unity, and calling awareness to racial injustice.
Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks made all three of these points in a video, concluding by saying the protests were primarily about racial injustice. “I think that it’s more powerful if each individual owner comes out and has something to say about this, but we are all together, we are all Americans, and it’s time for the racism and bigotry, for those things to go away. Those things have no place in society, no place in America, no place in any country, and that’s my two cents.”
Many liberals likely felt that fans would support the players who chose to disrespect the national anthem. And that they would also believe the widespread claims that last weekend’s protests were really about the supposed racial injustice in America and not a petty demonstration opposing the President.
Yet the polls tell a different story. Many fans — at least 62 percent of those surveyed — were offended by the protests enough to consider turning off their TVs and stop watching the NFL altogether.
Yahoo Finance released a statement about the poll, saying it could be devastating to the NFL financially. “In our survey, we wanted to suss out whether the anthem flap could deal a lasting financial hit to the NFL. The answers suggest it could. When we asked fans if the controversy would make them more or less supportive of the NFL, 71% said less and only 15% said more. Of those who said they are now less supportive, 74% said their change of heart was permanent, and only 3% said they felt it was temporary.”
The poll reveals the deep-rooted anger and frustration fans have with the disrespect and their intent to boycott the NFL permanently, even if changes were made.
The Daily Wire also reported that the NFL players have largely abandoned the protests. Sports business analyst Darren Rovell, sent out a tweet that noted less than a third protested the national anthem this week. “Last Sunday, about 180 NFL players didn’t stand for the national anthem. Today? 52.”
A Twitter user known as Proud Texan pointed out that only a handful of teams protested this Sunday, “In other words, 21 out of the 28 teams that played today had no one sit for the national anthem.”
The Daily Wire believes there are two reasons for the sudden change. The first is that players made their message clear last Sunday that Trump couldn’t tell them what to do and no longer see the need to protest again. Yet a more compelling reason may be that the teams and the NFL as a whole are reeling from the massive backlash from fans.
Even CNN supported Trump’s claim that the NFL was suffering because of the protests, according to Washington Free Beacon. CNN host John King said NFL owners are nervous about fans’ reactions. “NFL owners so far siding with their players for their right to free speech, but they’re also keeping close tabs on the financial impact and the public relations impact of this confrontation.”
The NFL is losing money rapidly due to the anthem protests. Should players be required to stand for the anthem?
He stated the NFL owners possess research “clearly showing the president is right” about the protests affecting ratings. King went on to say, “Since the president weighed in, the owners are now dealing with a surge in ticket holder requests for refunds.”
Like any US citizen, NFL players are free to speak and act however they want, but the negative backlash from fans should make them think twice about continuing to show their disrespect towards the US and its military — and the potential impact it can have on their careers. While players are free to behave disrespectfully, fans are also free to spend their money elsewhere.