Politicizing Sports: The Real Reason NFL Ratings Slipped Last Year

The National Football League, originally called the American Professional Football Association and was founded in 1920 – and has since grown into one of the most prominent forms of entertainment in the United States.

The league continued to expand over the years and in the 1990s, television contracts along with various labor agreements combined to cement the league as one of the most profitable organizations in the land. Now, the program is seeing its first major decline.

This past year saw television ratings for the NFL drop by 8 percent, according to a J.D. Power marketing study. The cause of the rating dip was an oft contested topic, with many pointing to the elections as the main culprit. This was likely because ratings declined 14 percent leading up to the election.

However, even after the election was over, the league still noted a drop in viewership when compared to the previous year.

The liberal website The Atlantic published an article entitled “NFL Ratings Just Fell Off a Cliff.”  Interestingly enough, the players’ national anthem protests were never mentioned as one of the culprits. This, of course, was the “elephant in the room” no liberal publication wanted to touch or admit existed. The article instead places the blame on various other reasons, including cord cutters, presidential debates, retiring football stars and even Twitter streams.

The Atlantic and other news organizations like it missed the ball entirely.

The real reason behind the drop in ratings, according to the J.D. Power survey mentioned, was due to protests. In fact, of the 9,200 people polled in the survey, 26 percent named the national anthem protests as the main reason they opted out of viewing various NFL games throughout the season.

These protests, of course, were started by Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. He took a knee during the national anthem instead of honoring the anthem by standing with his hand over his heart as is expected.

Forget everything you’ve heard about a third-string quarterback’s abrupt support for civil rights. Colin Kaepernick began his national anthem protests as a way for him to draw attention to what he perceived as unsubstantiated police brutality against African Americans. Various other African American players joined Kaepernick, and began taking a knee during the national anthem at their games. The trend spread all over the country, even showing up in kids’ games, with whole teams of kids taking a knee instead of standing for the national anthem before their sporting events.

Of course, the protests exacerbated existing problems with the NFL. Some 24 percent of those polled admitted that game delays, as well as various issues surrounding players, including domestic violence accusations, factored into their personal decline in viewership. Therefore, for most people polled, either the protests or moral issues surrounding players were the reason for their decline in viewership.

The actual number of viewers who were affected by the presidential debates was 16 percent. Therefore, admittedly, the presidential election and all it entailed did have some bearing on the NFL viewer ratings, just not as much as the main factor, that being the protests of the national anthem.

All of this was nothing short of a one-eighty for American football, typically considered a shoe-in for conservative viewers. The NFL has historically been extremely patriotic. They often have military fly over’s, ceremonies to honor troops, large displays of the flag and more. The league also promotes family, and individual players frequently give back to their communities and those less fortunate.

There is even an award each year called the “Walter Payton Man of the Year Award” given to one player each year who shows excellence on and off the field. Roger Goodell said the following about the award “We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts.”

In short, the NFL is an organization that promotes and rewards individuals who give back to others. Unfortunately, the NFL also provides an opportunity for players to have a huge audience to promote their own personal agendas, like the protest against police that led to the trend of kneeling during the national anthem.

Whatever his intent, statistics show that the act by Kaepernick and the other players who kneeled during the national anthem was not one that was admired by most Americans. That is likely because as Americans we are supposed to stand during the national anthem. This is a way we honor those who have bravely fought to secure our freedom here in America.

If the NFL has any respect for itself left, it will begin to understand that football is simply not where Americans tune in to learn how to behave — politically or otherwise.
~ Liberty Planet