The NFL has been a ratings juggernaut for years, a consistent cash cow for the major TV networks. However, last weekend, there was a notable decrease in viewership. The incident was discussed on September 12th in an article by the Barrett Sports Media network:
When the NFL kicks off regular season play, television networks expect their ratings to soar higher than the previous season. Given the popularity of the National Football League, it’s understandable to have those expectations. But for the start of the 2016 campaign, the ratings were less than what FOX, CBS and NBC had hoped for.
The NFL has been changing over the last few years, an issue I wrote about in a previous article. We are seeing the growing presence of an SJW narrative: we now have a pink field in October (Breast Cancer Awareness), domestic violence commercials throughout the season, and recently, players not standing for the National Anthem in protest of racial inequality.
For the first time that I can remember, there was a vocal backlash against this growing trend. A #BoycottNFL hashtag surfaced a few weeks ago, and it trended on social media. Most of the outcry was against Colin Kaepernick in particular, who refused to stand for the National Anthem to protest racism in America. Many fans made rebuttal videos to Kaepernick, going so far as to burn his jersey. Actually, so many people decided to burn his jersey that there’s now a compilation video online of the best burns (110,000 hits and growing). Even Ted Cruz jumped into the fray on Monday, encouraging people to boycott, “rich, spoiled athletes.”
So now that week one of the NFL is over, and we can review the television ratings. Apparently, the fans stood behind their pledge! Let’s go back to the Barrett Sports Media article for a breakdown of the numbers.
All The NFL Games Showed A Decline In TV Viewership
Here is a brief overview of the numbers.
- Thursday Night Opener (Broncos vs. Panthers): Down 10% from last year
- Sunday game on CBS: Down 13% from last year
- Sunday game on Fox: Down 3% from last year
- Sunday game on NBC (Patriots vs. Cardinals): Down 11%
- Monday Night ESPN (Steelers vs. Redskins): Down 7%
- Monday Night nightcap (49ers vs. Rams): Down 25%
The one rating that should stand out here is the 49ers game. Colin Kaepernick stated that he would continue to not stand for the National Anthem. Well, the fans responded in kind. The largest drop in TV viewership was for the 49ers game (Kaepernick’s team)—down 25%.
Overall, these were the lowest TV ratings for an NFL opening day in a decade.
What Can We Make Of This Decline?
The NFL diehards will say the league is untouchable. The decline was just a blip on the map, and the ship will right itself in the upcoming weeks. 2009 had low ratings in week one, for example. The NFL’s domination of TV ratings will continue unfettered. Americans are too lazy, too addicted to the opium of sports viewership, to change. And I have to admit, the pessimist in me is inclined to agree. This might be true… only time will tell.
However, there’s an old biblical saying—pride comes before a fall. We’re living in a different era: an interactive digital world, where people are able to exchange ideas like never before. People who are frustrated with the NFL can now have a platform to express their disapproval. And in turn, they can share their ideas with like-minded individuals. As a case in point, the sheer number of people who are protesting the NFL online is unprecedented. I’ve been following the league since 1978, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The NFL is not bulletproof—nobody is.
Also, it should be noted that national sentiment about a sport has changed over time. In the early 20th century, boxing was big; in the mid 20th century, baseball was king; and in the last forty years, football has risen in popularity. More recently, we’ve seen people turning to non-traditional sports, such as MMA and X-Games. In short, football is not the only game in town; it can be replaced, just like it is outside of the United States. Americans might not turn to watching soccer, like in Europe or South America. But it’s quite possible that they will choose from a growing variety of options.
And finally, the future of football is in jeopardy; this is due to the rising number of head injuries. There was a movie in 2015 entitled Concussion, starring Will Smith, which highlighted the health problems that many former players are experiencing. The movie made waves across the NFL. Former star Troy Aikman commented on the message of the movie, stating that if he had a son, he would not encourage him to play football. How many other parents are out there like Aikman? Quite a few, I’m sure. In the future, we’ll see fewer parents who encourage their children to have a passion for the game. The result will be a continued decline in TV viewership.
I didn’t watch the NFL’s opening day for the first time in many years. Recently, I‘ve become increasingly disillusioned with the direction of the league. Moreover, I now realize that my support is a tacit form of approval. I am letting the league know, as well as its athletes, that I approve of their dysfunctional behavior.
The only thing a bully respects is a punch in the nose. And the SJW army is very much a bully, using their power to destroy the edifice of American tradition. The way that you can punch them back is very simple—turn off your television on Sunday, or find something else to watch.
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