National anthem protests, like the ones famously started by Colin Kaeprnick, have cost the NFL both attendance and viewers, according to a new report made available via ESPN News.
It was one of the most controversial and attention-grabbing sports stories of 2016: the San Francisco 49ers quarterback was caught on-camera, during a preseason game, staying seated while the rest of the team stood for the national anthem. When asked about it, Kaepernick, whose mother is white and whose father is African American, said he was doing so as a protest against police brutality.
Almost immediately, Kaepernick’s protest was met with equal parts derision and support. His act of protest soon spread to other NFL players, then to high school players, then to athletes in other sports at both the professional and amateur levels.
The insanity over the national anthem protests reached its zenith in September, when an Alabama pastor, who was announcing a high school football game, told those who wouldn’t stand for the anthem to line up against a fence so they could get shot, as The New York Daily News reported at the time.
These days, Kaepernick is jobless, NFL training camps are gearing up, and the whole trend of national anthem protests seems to have died down.
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) May 19, 2017
Now it appears that a nationwide case of National Anthem Fatigue actually cost the NFL some viewers. According to a new survey released by J.D. Power, out of 9,200 sports fans polled, 26 percent said they sat out at least one game because of National Anthem protests.
In fact, ratings for the 2016-2017 NFL season were down. During the nine weeks of regular-season games before the presidential election, ratings were down eight percent. However, after the election they were down only one percent.
According to a new survey, national anthem protests were the top reason NFL fans watched fewer games last season. https://t.co/rYLczVsuEw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 27, 2017
Clearly the election played a role in the NFL’s dipping ratings. Other factors played a role, too. Almost as many fans said they were frustrated with the overbearing amount of commercials (something the NFL is reportedly trying to address). Also hurting the NFL were its ongoing issues with its image, particularly with so many players facing accusations of domestic abuse. A handful said they stopped watching sports all together because they ditched cable/satellite TV.
In fact, Sports Illustrated writer Jimmy Traina isn’t convinced that National Anthem Fatigue played any role at all in last season’s ratings woes.
“The problem with this is that at the bottom of the story, it is revealed that only 12 percent of the 9,200 people surveyed said they watched fewer games in 2016. So that means 26 percent of the 12 percent watched fewer games because of Kaepernick. I’m not a math wizard, but I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly a massive amount.”
Did you boycott any NFL games because of National Anthem protests? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP]