The State of the Union plays on every channel and nobody watches. The Super Bowl airs on one channel and everybody watches.
This likely plays as the rationale behind President Barack Obama scheduling an address ostensibly on terrorism right before the start of the most-watched football game of the week.
Sunday Night Football knows ratings. President Obama? Not so much.
The president, whose Gallup approval rating recently dipped below his disapproval rating, threatened to interrupt the broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Indianapolis Colts game with his address on terrorism. Football fans threatened revolution.
If Obama cuts into Sunday night football, I’m voting for trump.
— Samuel Adams (@samueladams97) December 7, 2015
Excuse me Obama, you better not ruin my Sunday night football. Please get off my TV. — Ally. (@ally_weigle) December 7, 2015
So Obama is gonna come on tv during Sunday night football AND he’s gonna spew his anti gun crap? That’s the most anti American thing ever!
— Jared Wise (@THEJAREDWISE) December 6, 2015
Didn’t the commander-in-chief hear what Carrie Underwood said? “The last one standin’ gets to turn out the lights/’cause I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday night.”
Ultimately, the president kept his 8 p.m. address to about 13 minutes. For the record, the presidential broadcast signal intrusion lasted about 11-and-a-half minutes longer than that masked Max Headroom impersonator’s hijacking of an episode of Doctor Who on Chicago public television. The Cliff’s Notes version of the president’s Cliff’s Notes speech? Restrict the rights of Americans from owning guns, not the privileges of Muslims wishing to immigrate to the United States. So, although football fans missed some of the pregame show, NBC broadcast the blowout—the Steelers beat the Luck-less Colts 45-10—without interruption from the president.
But Sunday night’s events outraged even those outside of Indianapolis. Rather than recognize an unpopular president’s attempt to maximize eyes by glomming-on to a popular sport, the sports-page Fourth Estate railed against their readers for preferring gridiron action to Oval Office talk.
“Way to go, NFL Nation,” wrote David Steele of the Sporting News. “Great job failing to even reach the low bar the public sets for you. Obama spoke and got off the air in plenty of time. That didn’t stop the usual social media crowd from chiming in about the relative importance of the threat to everyday life in this country, compared to the threat of missing part of the game.”
“There are plenty of things more important than a Colts-Steelers game and an immeasurable amount of things more important than Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison talking about the day in football with Dan Patrick on a pregame show,” USA Today‘s Chris Chase maintained. “A speech by the president about such a serious subject is near the top of that list. That anyone could be mad about that is as disconcerting as, well, any number of things that happen in this country every day.”
Next time threaten to interrupt the president’s speech with a football game. More people will watch.