There’s no denying it anymore. NFL ratings have dropped, with the Kaepernick protests as the top reason.
The numbers, which prove what every person with functioning brain cells already knew, come by way of a Yahoo! Sports poll conducted among NFL fans:
In a survey of 1,136 Americans who identified themselves as NFL fans, 29 percent said they are watching fewer NFL games. (Interestingly, 27 percent said they were watching more, though that does not necessarily correlate only a 2 percent net loss.) The fans claiming they watch less of the NFL cited the following reasons:
- Protests by Colin Kaepernick and others
- Lack of opportunity to watch the NFL
- Lost interest in the NFL
- Presidential election
Worth noting: the 40 percent of the “watching less NFL” group claiming protests as the reason represents 12 percent of all NFL fans. This is a sharp, though very much expected, decline from the 44 percent who claimed in a similar Yahoo study in early September that they would stop watching if protests continued.
Response to the protests continues to break down along age lines. More than half, 53 percent, of respondents 55 and over who said they are watching fewer games cited Kaepernick as the reason, while only 13 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 pointed to the protests as their reason for watching less football.
Should the protests migrate to other sports, respondents said they would cut back on viewing to the following degrees:
- 17 percent of NBA fans would watch fewer games
- 28 percent of baseball fans would watch fewer games
- 31 percent of hockey fans would watch fewer games
Kaepernick began his protests, in which he knelt or remained seated during the national anthem in order to bring attention to the issue of police violence, during the preseason and continues the protests to this day. Many other players and organizations have joined Kaepernick, but resistance to the protests has been strong as well.
What’s interesting, from a statistical perspective, is that perceptions of Kaepernick’s protest have hardly changed in the past month. In September, 32 percent of respondents supported Kaepernick; in this most recent survey, 33 percent support him. Similarly, 47 percent opposed Kaepernick’s stand in September; 44 percent continue to oppose him.
Support and opposition across racial lines remains extremely close to the September results. In the October survey, 25 percent of white respondents support Kaepernick, while 55 percent oppose. Sixty-two percent of black respondents support Kaepernick, while 5 percent oppose his stance.
So what does this all mean? Several reasons exist for why people don’t watch the NFL as much anymore. However, the Kaepernick protests reign supreme among those reasons.
It also means that although you can find opponents of Kaepernick’s protests among all races and age groups, opposition runs strongest among older whites. Older whites also trend more conservative, particularly disastrous for the NFL given the fact that conservatives and Republicans make up a majority of the NFL’s fan base.
This makes the league’s embrace of a spoiled and pampered millennial, as he disgraces our flag and insults our military on national television, a most foolhardy and suicidal proposition.
Particularly rich is that the results of this poll come out only one day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement on Wednesday that neither he nor the league’s network partners believes that the Kaepernick-inspired protests have played a role in the declining ratings.
Well, that’s over now.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn