- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Nearly one-third of American adults say they are less likely to watch a National Football League game because of the growing number of Black Lives Matter protests that are happening by players on the field, a Rasmussen poll found.

Thirty-two percent polled online and by telephone said they’re willing to skip NFL games this year because of player protests over racial issues, the pollster said on Tuesday. Only 13 percent said they were more likely to watch the games because of the protests, and 52 percent said the protests had no impact on their viewing decisions.

Twenty-eight percent of African Americans said they were more likely to tune-into an NFL game because of the protests, compared to 8 percent of whites and 16 percent of other Americans, the poll found.

Whites were twice as likely as blacks to say they are less likely to watch this year.

Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has inspired African American NFL players across the country to join him in protesting racial injustice in the U.S. by taking a knee or raising a power fist during the national anthem.

President Barack Obama has defended Mr. Kaepernick’s protest, which began in August’s pre-season, saying even though some Americans may disagree, Mr. Kaepernick’s right to to protest is “what freedom means in this country,” so long as its within the law.

The NFL, which has refused to do anything about the protests, has had its ratings collapse this season. Although some have blamed blow-out contests, and others point to the presidential election, some see the protests and #boycottNFL online campaigns as the root of the ratings free-fall.

“NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ was down yet again in viewership, drawing in 16.68 million viewers and scoring a 6.19/19 rating in the advertiser friendly 18-49 demo,” Forbes reported on Monday. “The numbers mark a season low for ‘SNF’ and the show’s 11.0 overnight rating is the lowest total since 2007 (ouch).”

“Opposing viewpoints between NFL players and the league’s fans combined with increased viewing options have led to a smaller piece of the ratings pie,” Forbes wrote. “But what’s most curious about this situation is the league’s refusal to comment on it publicly. A quarter of the NFL season is now in the rearview mirror and the league is on pace for its worst ratings in more than a decade,” Forbes wrote. “At what point does the NFL drop the charade and try something new?”

Perhaps they’re in denial - not wanting to admit Mr. Kaepernick’s protest is indeed affecting their bottom line.

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