Jason Whitlock will probably make the social justice warriors on Twitter (again) unhappy, this time with his take on the unprecedented decline in NFL television ratings.
After two tours of duty with ESPN, Whitlock — the former Kansas City Star columnist — is back with Fox Sports, and he thinks the NFL’s viewership shortfall is media driven.
According to the Bloomberg news agency, NFL prime-time viewership is down 14 percent among the advertiser-desired 18-49 demographic. Monday, Thursday, and Sunday night ratings have also plummeted. About the NFL ratings “fumble,” the Wall Street Journal reports that ratings are down 10 percent overall, which is massive for a sports league that traditionally was a money-making juggernaut.
With Colin Cowherd, another ESPN expatriate, Whitlock is the co-host of Speak For Yourself, a new offering on Fox Sports 1 airing weekdays at 6 p.m. Eastern time, which may be the network’s answer to ESPN’s popular Pardon the Interruption.
Last month, unlike most sports media pundits, Whitlock blasted Colin Kaepernick’s take-a-knee national anthem protest as divisive, childish, uninformed, and self-serving. Whitlock also claimed that it is nearly impossible to get shot by cops if you don’t run from them and previously insisted that African-Americans have more to fear from a lightning strike than a police shooting.
In last night’s FS1 broadcast, Whitlock assailed the too-fluid NFL schedule plus the “hyper-progressives in the sports media” along with other factors for causing the NFL ratings decline.
“I think there’s larger narrative going on that the media is just not looking at. If the media took a step back and looked at all of 2016 and just understood what was going on globally and here domestically in America, the upheaval and the unrest that’s going on in America, and this hyper-progressive movement that has lurched into sports and changed the conversation about sports. And if you just take your eyes off NFL and look what’s going on in sports TV, so much of the conversation is inconsistent with the values of sports culture. I’m going to say it until I’m blue in the face, sports culture is conservative and religious, and we’ve turned conservative into a curse word in this country, and it’s just not.”
Whitlock continued that progressives and sports culture don’t mix.
“The conversation about sports, all of  — long before then, but it’s starting to have ramifications now — inconsistent with the values of sports culture, and we’re turning off our base. Our base of support, the people that coach Peewee football, the people that participate in Peewee football, all the way through, we’re making them uncomfortable by inviting in all these people that really don’t care about sports, don’t love sports, they have a political agenda and they’re leading the conversation about sports, and it’s turning people off…national ratings are down significantly. People still watch their local team because it’s been their habit, but nationally there a little less interested in the NFL and I think all sports, because we’ve turned sports into something it’s just not.”
In a separate segment, Whitlock added that to some degree, he tips his hat (and he does wear an old-timey fedora on the show) to Colin Kaepernick for making everyone more aware of the national anthem and the flag.
Whitlock left ESPN for the second time in the fall of 2015, several months after losing his gig as editor-in-chief of the long-form sports journalism site The Undefeated, which has been described as the “black Grantland.” The Undefeated finally launched officially on May 17, 2016, although the sports network shut down Grantland in late October 2015, five months after the departure of high-profile editor Bill Simmons.
With controversial opinions all over the map, Jason Whitlock in the past has been alternatively accused by his detractors — many of whom make their feelings known on Twitter — of playing the race card, as well as being a sellout and an Uncle Tom. “Over the years, Whitlock has taken several unpredictable and often unpopular positions, especially when racial issues intersect with sports,” the New York Times detailed in September 2010.
In a separate rant, Whitlock argued that the media is failing to report on what he described as the one-sided culture war between cyber humans who through Twitter bully and exercise mind control over the media and celebrities to the detriment of real-world humans.
Cyber Humans vs Humans: The culture war no one is talking about, the culture war Humans are losing, the culture war tearing apart America. pic.twitter.com/67J9MRR8rY— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) September 23, 2016
In April, shortly after Kobe Bryant’s final game, Jason Whitlock accused the Los Angeles Lakers superstar of being a selfish fraud and that his final game, in which Bryant poured in 60 points, was “hot garbage.”
In March, Jason Whitlock claimed that the St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam because the NFL wanted to engage in a politically correct stunt rather than Sam’s defensive skills on the gridiron.
Do you agree or disagree with Jason Whitlock that the media-enabled progressive movement is ruining fan interest in the NFL and sports in general?
[Featured Image by by John Amis/AP Images]