While baseball soars, football is in the midst of a major crash this year. Ever since Colin Kaepernick started protesting the National Anthem, players have shown support for his cause by following his lead. The controversy continued last weekend as two dozen players from throughout the league protested the National Anthem. Some knelt while other stayed in the tunnel adjacent to the field. These symbolic protests have been very unpopular with most Americans.
Not surprisingly, television ratings are down 7.5% this year versus 2016, which was down 8% from the year before. From 2015 to 2017, the NFL has lost 3.3 million viewers.
In addition, attendance is markedly down throughout the league. Embarrassing pictures were posted on the Internet showing stadiums half full. This is the result of markedly increasing ticket prices along with fan disgust with the National Anthem protest.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can dismiss the controversy all he wants, but it will not change the negative ramifications for his league. The Commissioner has refused to mandate that players stand during the National Anthem and until he is courageous enough to make such a policy, the downward trend for the NFL will continue.
It is really sad that Goodell refuses to lead a league that has paid him $212 million from 2006 to 2015. He makes a higher salary than any NFL player, but his statistics are totally atrocious. President Trump tweeted that the NFL has “no leadership” and he is totally right.
In response to the player protest, some police officers are refusing to provide protection at stadiums. In Miami, there would normally be 400 Broward County Sheriff’s deputies providing protection at a typical game, but last weekend only 270 officers volunteered.
For the past few weeks, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has demanded that all of his players stand for the National Anthem. While they have compiled with his plea, defensive lineman David Erving raised his fist in a Black Power salute after the anthem was finished. When asked about the impact of the protests, Jones replied that there was “no question the league was suffering negative effects.”
One of the NFL’s major sponsors, Papa John’s, reported that pizza sales are down during the games this year. Surely, other advertisers are reporting weaker sales as well.
Collectively, these warning signs should spur action from the NFL, but the owners just left their meeting last weekend without any increased penalties for protesters. Thus, the insanity will persist, and the coaches, players and owners will continue to destroy a league that has treated them very, very well.