Americans are growing increasingly tired of the protests against the national anthem in the NFL, which they view as disgraceful to military and law enforcement. They are responding with action, and the NFL is taking a big hit.
The Washington-based Winston Group recently conducted a poll on the attitude of NFL fans, and their findings are devastating for the NFL. Their analysis stated, “Among males, NFL favorables fell 23 percent, going from 68 percent to 45 percent. In looking at a more specific audience, males 34-54, NFL favorables fell 31 percent, going from 73 percent to 42 percent. Among this group the NFL has a surprising negative image, as it went from +54 percent in August to -5 percent in September,” according to Daily Caller.
The result is considered a critical impact for the NFL, as it “occurred among important audiences.” The NFL is now one of the least favored sports among Americans.
When compared to other major league sports such as NBA, MLB, as well as college football and basketball, the polls show that the NFL now has the lowest “favorable” rating, and the highest “unfavorable” rating as of September. This is worse than their August performance, where the NFL polled the second highest “favorable” rating.
As protests increased, favorability ratings plummeted, and unfavorability ratings skyrocketed, which also coincided with TV ratings declining.
According to Deadline, recent Monday Night Football ratings resulted in double digit declines. Viewership for the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs’ fourth win amassed 11.9 million viewers, which was a 13 percent decline from the previous week, and a 16 percent decline in the key demographic — a “season low.”
ESPN reporter Darren Rovell tweeted, “Through Week 4, NFL ratings are down 9% vs last year thru Week 4. Ratings were down 8% last year vs 2015 over entire regular season.”
Americans who want to watch sports aren’t tuning in to watch players’ political protest. Maybe now, the NFL will begin to understand that people are sick of having politics thrown into everything that they love.
This all began with the infamous Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled in the protest last year, citing alleged police brutality and racism. The media narratives of police brutality spurred Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee and inspiring other NFL players to follow suit.
As Americans reacted in declining viewership, President Trump began speaking out against the protesting players via Twitter, calling for the NFL to put a stop to the protests. As a result, the protests amplified, and kneeling morphed into spiteful protests against the president.
The president’s tweets have brought much-needed attention to this issue, and now, the number of players protesting the anthem is declining. Perhaps the teams and the league came to the realization that these protests cannot continue — or they will destroy the sport.
NFL fans favorables plummet. Will the NFL recover?
The negative reactions and decline if ratings for the NFL following the anthem protests spooked the NBA, who sent out a memo to teams warning them of possible discipline for failing to stand for the anthem. The memo noted, “the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem.”
Kaepernick told CBS today that he’ll stand if given the chance to play in the NFL once more, seeming to realize his mistake of political demonstrations that alienated Americans and cost him a paycheck. However, it seems the damage has been done.
If the NFL does manage to clear the storm, it will be years before they can rebuild their image because of their inaction–and support–on this issue. While they somehow manage to control all other actions on the field, they have failed on this one.