The owner of the Buffalo Bills, Kim Pegula, is looking for compromise with activist players, as she tries to end the NFL’s social justice protests while still recognizing the players’ free speech.
Pegula raised the issue this week as she sat on a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, ESPN reported.
Asked about the last two years of player protests during the playing of the national anthem, Pegula insisted that when she explained to players how bad the protests were for the team’s bottom line, some changed their perspective on the matter:
‘My own experience, I think a lot of it is just communication,’ she said. ‘I know that’s easy to say. But I know that several of our players, when I actually talked to them and actually gave them a different perspective — just like they were trying to give us a different perspective — on the impact of the business and what the impact is of what they do socially, off the game, at home and then how that affects the business side. They didn’t grow up in the sports business world. They came in on the players’ side.’
‘So a lot of [Bills players] just didn’t understand or know the impact that it had on the business, the organization and the community – good or bad. So I do think there’s definitely an impact. I wouldn’t shy away from it at all. I think there is a common ground. I think a lot of it is more about communicating and learning from each other on both sides and coming to some type of a compromise at some point. Sometimes you won’t be able to come to a compromise. But something usually gets done when that happens.’
Pegula added that the social justice protests “keep her up at night” as she worries that the protests continue to negatively impact fan participation.
The team owner said that there are more people and matters “influencing” some of the decisions owners have to make that “don’t have to do with just sports,” and these things are causing the sport a lot of problems.
“But at the same time,” she said, “knowing that there’s all these things that are coming at you that don’t have to have to necessarily affect your sport but is not related directly. They are influencing it.”
The 2017 NFL season lost another ten percent in TV ratings and, even worse, the league found a $30 million dip in ad revenue, according to reports. Some attribute that continued loss of audience to the anti-American “social justice” protests that have entered into their second season.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.