Poll: Fans Say NBA Has Become ‘Too Political’ as Ratings Crumble

LeBron James
Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

The latest Harris Poll finds that most sports fans think the NBA is “too political,” and they are watching less basketball this season as a result.

The poll released this week found that 39 percent of respondents who identified as sports fans said they are watching fewer games this season, and politics is the reason why, Forbes reported.

“The league has become too political,” was the preferred answer of 38 percent of respondents to explain why they aren’t watching the NBA this year. Another 19 percent said they were upset with the NBA because of its connection to China, another “too political” answer. Then there was the 28 percent who said it was “boring without fans” in the stands.

On the main question, 39 percent said they are watching fewer NBA games this year, 32 percent said they are watching more, and 28 percent said about the same amount.

The results show that President Donald Trump’s criticism of the league is resonating among fans.

Only a few days ago, for instance, the president noted that the NBA’s ratings are crashing. And he said it was because people are tired of the politics shoehorned into sports.

The poll also found that the NBA has the most profound splits over politics.

“Harris also found the NBA is more partisan than any other sport. Only 34% of Republicans say they “actively follow” the NBA, compared with 48% of Democrats. The gap of 14 percentage points is the largest of any sport. For comparison, 54% of Democrats actively follow the NFL versus 51% of Republicans,” Forbes wrote.

Since it returned from its coronavirus break, the NBA’s ratings have engaged in a steady, downward march with each game seemingly earning fewer viewers than the last.

The leagues’ most recent playoff games were nearly all down a few percentage points from the previous week’s games and off double-digits from last year.

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