We’ll give it to the NFL and their social-justice-warrior defenders, they’ve done one hell of a job selling the public a half-baked batch of stories about why ratings have plummeted this season. Oh, it’s because of all the cord-cutters. Oh, it’s because people are paying more attention to politics than football. Oh, it’s because there were a lot of great church events around the country this year. Yeah, okay. But in the wake of a Super Bowl that drew some of the lowest ratings in the Big Game’s history, team owners and NFL head office officials (to say nothing of angry sponsors) are going to have to face the facts: Their decision to support those players who knelt all season for the national anthem came around and bit them HARD in their bottom…line.
The proof comes in the form of a new survey by UBS Bank. The poll asked 2,000 football fans who have curtailed their viewing habits about why, and the results are exactly as you would suspect. A full 50% said they had tuned out of the game because of the protesting players, up from 32% who said the same thing last year. Another 20% said they were “not as interested in professional football” and 23% said they were sick of the players’ off-the-field shenanigans. But frankly, we would be surprised if anyone in either of the lesser two categories did not factor in the anthem protests.
This has been an absolute brand disaster for the NFL, and it was entirely avoidable.
The NFL brass needs to give serious thought as to how they want to come back into Americas living rooms in the fall. Because if they come back and once again throw the green carpet out for their players to kneel on, there may be no coming back. As a point of fact, it may already be too late.
But…it may not be. After all, a lot of boycotting fans have been watching the NFL their entire lives and old habits are hard to break. Fans WANT to come back to the game. The NFL needs to invite them by making it absolutely clear that the flag will NOT be disrespected on their watch.
Or they can sit back and do nothing and watch a once-mighty league fall. That would be a real shame, but, as these numbers show, it’s also a very real possibility.