While ESPN and the NFL cheered the supposed “courage” of former San Franciscco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for failing to stand for the national anthem, it turns out the viewers were less sanguine. According to a new poll from J.D. Power, the #1 reason fans decided not to watch the NFL last year was the national anthem protests, which ended up spreading to several teams and multiple players. Fully 26% of people who said they watched less NFL content last year said they did so because of the national anthem nonsense. Another 24% said that domestic violence and delay of game penalties kept them away.
This is the second major poll to confirm that Leftist politics drove Americans from watching football. In October 2016, 56% of fans said that they believed ratings were down because of the national anthem protests.
Which means that the Left’s unwavering desire to infuse politics into even the most apolitical content comes with a cost: alienation of an audience that disagrees. While polls showed that the vast bulk of Americans despised the national anthem protests, those statistics polarized by race: 63% of white Americans disliked the protests, and a plurality of Hispanics disapproved (45 percent to 36 percent), but fully 74% of black Americans liked the protests. Overall, 54% of Americans opposed the protests, with just 38% approving.
The racial polarization that gripped the nation over the last several years thanks to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and President Obama’s decision to humor racially divisive politics didn’t leave football untouched. And the Leftists at the sports networks, in an attempt to mirror their political idols at the Democratic Party, celebrated as their own industry imbibed from the intersectional bottle. The cost: ratings.
Mixing politics into sport has withdrawn an essential part of our civic culture from the realm of the universal. And that’s going to have larger ramifications than merely a drop in NFL ratings.