Many players in the National Football League (NFL) are kneeling during the national anthem or refusing to stand on the field altogether as it plays. Prior polls indicate that most Americans find such protests distasteful.
In September 2016, CBS Sports reported that two polls — one from Reuters and another from SurveyMonkey — showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans were not supportive of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem.
The Reuters poll found that 72% of Americans viewed the protest as "unpatriotic" and 61% disagreed with the protest itself and Kaepernick's anti-American viewpoint. The SurveyMonkey poll was a little bit closer, finding 44% of Americans didn't support Kaepernick's protest while 29% did. The remaining respondents weren't sure how to feel about it.
However, both polls found that most Americans think that football players should not be punished for kneeling during the national anthem: 64% of Americans in the Reuters poll didn't think that Kaepernick should face discipline from the NFL, as did 60% in the SurveyMonkey poll.
Basically, the feeling among Americans was the common-sense stance: kneeling during the national anthem is dumb and unpatriotic, but players have the right to do so. And there's evidence to suggest that sentiment remains intact today.
In July, a J.D. Power poll found that the anthem kneeling was the number one reason why NFL fans stopped watching football games. On Saturday, Forbes reported that "shares of companies that broadcast NFL games — Comcast, Walt Disney, Fox, CBS — are all down between 1% to 8%."
Here are more details from the report:
Towards the end of last season some felt the NFL's ratings dip would be temporary and therefore would not ultimately hurt the networks by forcing them to reimburse advertisers. Instead, the opposite has happened.
Ratings for the the NFL have been worse this season and attendance for some games has also been disappointing. The networks will pay over $5 billion this season to televise the NFL and were already facing unflattering margins on advertising profits. An article in The Hollywood Reporter reckons the drop in NFL ratings could trim the broadcaster's earnings by $200 million. Disney's ESPN, meanwhile, also continues to get hammered by cord-cutting.
Evidence indicates that as more players engage in anthem kneeling and sports media figures encourage it, more and more Americans will tune out the NFL.