The national anthem controversy in the NFL is one of the most hotly debated topics right now. It all started when Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem last season to allegedly fight racism and police brutality.
Now, ticket sales numbers for the week are in after President Trump said that NFL team owners need to fire players who refuse to unify during the national anthem. Shockingly — or perhaps not to the fans — NFL ticket sales are down almost 20 percent, according to the Washington Examiner. Considering the amount of money the league makes every year, this percentage drop is huge.
TickPick, an online ticket retailer, issued their sales numbers for the week and it revealed startling statistics. Sales are down exactly 17.9 percent compared to the previous week.
This stat is particularly revealing, because while there is a history of third-week ticket sale declines, no decline in history is even close to this. It sends a strong message to the NFL that the consumers are in charge of their business.
Players may have found it “necessary” to kneel during the national anthem last week, but consequently, many Americans felt it “necessary” to refuse to buy NFL tickets.
TickPick’s representative, Jack Slingland, spoke on the topic: “We have seen a massive decrease in NFL ticket purchases this past week in comparison to years past. Week 3 seems to usually have less ticket orders than week 2, but this year ticket purchases are down more than 7 percent from this time last year.”
In light of last week’s protests, there was no clear answer as to why they were kneeling. Some think that they were kneeling for Kaepernick’s original cause — to battle racial injustice and police brutality.
Others believe — and think it is more likely — that the protests occurred because of President Trump’s comments during an Alabama speech. In the speech, he said that he believed anyone who disrespected the national anthem, flag, or any bit of American unity should be fired.
Slingland admitted that he isn’t sure about the recent ticket drop as it relates to the protests. “While we can’t specify if this decrease is due to the president’s comments, player and owner protests, play on the field, or simply the continued division of consumer’s media attention, the conversation around the NFL this week has focused on the president’s comments as well as the players’ and owners’ reaction,” Slingland said.
With ticket sales tanking, the NFL is paying a price for not enforcing their own rules requiring respect for the anthem. Will the NFL learn any lessons from this?
Many teams have said that they will be standing together in unity for week three instead of kneeling. Teams such as the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers have released statements saying that their actions were not intended to show disrespect towards the military or the United States.
It is hard to say whether they are back peddling on their behavior because they realize that they were wrong, or because they realize that they are infuriating the average fan who doesn’t want to see disrespect towards the United States or politics in football — or both, perhaps.
Slingland did confirm that, “As viewers continue to abandon their NFL Sunday habits, both the number of ticket sales and the purchase price of tickets will drop.” Ergo, there are consequences to one’s actions, and the NFL is learning that the hard way.