Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Brett Favre blamed “struggling” ratings for professional sports on “political messaging” that has been infused into games.
Favre appeared via video at a town hall with President Donald Trump on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling. During the town hall, which aired Wednesday, Favre asked the president how professional athletes and teams can balance sports and social justice without losing their fan bases.
“The NBA and the NFL are struggling with lower ratings as fans clearly do not want political messaging mixed with their sports, so how should the leagues support and promote an anti-racism position without becoming political and alienating fans?” Favre asked.
Trump responded to Favre by saying that people want sports to remain about sports only. Most people use sports to escape from politics and they do not want those political or social justice issues distracting from the games, especially if the fans disagree with the stances of the participants.
“People don’t want to see all of the politics. They’ve got enough politics with me and with everybody else, and they don’t want to see it with football and sports on Sunday or whenever they happen to be watching,” Trump said. “I think it’s had a huge impact on sports, a huge negative impact on sports. I think the football ought to get back to football and basketball to basketball and let politics remain separate.”
“If people want to protest they can, but they shouldn’t be protesting on the sidelines during the football game, especially when they are making $10 million a year for something that they would be doing anyway for free if they weren’t in the league or the NFL or in the NBA,” Trump continued. “But the NBA in particular, their ratings have gone down. I’ve never seen anything like it. But the NFL, too. People don’t want to see it, and they want to have these players stand and salute and put their hand over their heart, or at least stand for the national anthem and solute. They want respect for the American flag, they want respect for our country.”
The NBA stepped up social justice messaging in the latter half of the 2020 season after it was paused mid-way through because of the coronavirus pandemic. After the league restarted the season in the Disney “bubble” in Florida, the NBA significantly increased activism during the games by painting slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” on the sidelines and replacing players’ names on their jerseys with phrases such as “Say Their Names” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Social justice activism also spread through the NFL as many teams are attempting to walk a balance between protesting the national anthem and not offending much of their fan base. A few teams have elected to not take the field at all during the national anthem so fans cannot see whether players are kneeling for the anthem or not. Other teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens, have elected to put their activism on display no matter the backlash.
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