While the NFL is in the midst of press revolving around players protesting during the National Anthem, it also has to face the issue that is no longer America’s favorite sport. From the end of August to the beginning of September, ratings for the NFL were seen to have dropped from 57 percent to 44 percent, with the unfavorable rating for the league at 40 percent, which is the highest among any big sport.
According to the Winston Group Survey, the NFL has been replaced by baseball with favorable ratings in August and September reaching 63 and 65 percent.
The sport had been seeing lower TV ratings and the amount of vacant seating in stadiums showed that the sport’s popularity was on the decline. However, the accompaniment of the National Anthem protest and criticism from President Trump meant that core fans – men aged 34-54 – were turning their loyalty away from the NFL.
As a result, the favorable rating among those fans went from 73 to 42 percent, and the unfavorable rating subsequently increased from 19 to 47 percent. More surprisingly, according to the Winston Poll, the decrease in support was seen in every sect of NFL fandom, which confirmed the prediction made by the President, Donald Trump, where he said the protest could only work unfavorably for the league.
His prediction made on September 27 was that the NFL would ‘go to hell’ if they don’t put an end to the protests during the National Anthem, or which he demanded must stop. During a Republican Party fundraising dinner, Trump criticized NFL executives for being the decision makers in what social-awareness campaigns are allowed on the field.
‘They have a rule, you can’t dance in the end zone, you can’t wear pink socks – one guy’s mother had breast cancer and they wouldn’t let him – you can’t do anything,’ he proclaimed. He continued,’But you’re allowed to sit down for the National Anthem!’
He further told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, ‘I think the NFL is in a box. I think they’re in a really bad box. You look at what’s happening with their ratings. You look at what’s going on. I mean, frankly, the only thing doing well in the NFL is the pregame because everybody wants to see what’s going on.’