Sportswriters on the National Football League beat have been spinning and denying the elephant in the room on the great 2016 NFL ratings drop all season. The demise of the value of advertising space on broadcasts is being blamed on competition from the election, boring play, blowouts, Payton Manning retiring, Tom Brady missing four games, bad officiating…you name it.
Finally, at the quarterly owners meeting, the BIG MONEY people are acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, there’s a real image problem with Colin Kaepernick’s little temper tantrum, and the resulting cascade of players who don’t respect the rest of us.
Then there are the protests. The national anthem protests by players, ignited by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s mission to raise awareness about police brutality and social justice inequalities that victimize African Americans, has been a polarizing debate of its own on the NFL’s grand stage. Though the protests — from players like Kaepernick taking a knee, to players raising a fist, to players and coaches locking arms in unity — end when the games begin, they generate much discussion before and after the contests.
Still, the impact of the protests illustrates the power of the NFL’s reach.
“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told USA TODAY Sports. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”
Irsay’s view is undoubtedly shared by other owners who frown on the protests drawing attention from their product. Given the intense backlash against Kaepernick, it’s plausible that people have turned away to protest the protests.
“People come to the game because they want to get away from what’s happening in their everyday lives,” McNair said. “When you bring those types of things into the scene, yeah, it will turn some people off. But the main thing we try to do is to say, ‘We recognize your concern. Let’s do something about it.’ “
The writer of the USA Today article, Jarrett Bell, is really in some sort of state of denial still.
It’s striking that the anthem protests, connected to other factors, are viewed as a variable that seemingly runs deeper than other recent crises. The NFL took tremendous PR hits with its domestic violence issues and concerns about the effects of concussions. But those serious issues seemingly didn’t have a major effect on the ratings.
Other bad publicity issues didn’t insult the fan base by stomping on patriotism. That’s the problem that the NFL won’t acknowledge, that their gaslighted players are following memes and narratives that the American people, and the fan base, either do not buy, or see from the other side. That’s why this year’s ratings look like this against last year’s.