NFL boycotters are split on notion of ‘taking a knee’

January 10, 2018

Throughout this 2017 NFL season, television ratings have declined and fans, TV pundits, and reporters have speculated why. Was it the protests of players during the national anthem that caused viewers to turn their sets off and ticket holders to empty their stadium seats?

Now, a survey from SurveyMonkey and Ozy Media, shared first with Yahoo Finance, finds that 33% of NFL fans boycotted the league this year—but not entirely because they were outraged by the player protests.

In fact, the researchers say, it was nearly 50:50. Half boycotted specifically in support of protest originator and free agent Colin Kaepernick (and/or demonstrations by his fellow players) and half boycotted in support of President Trump, who vocally opposed the protests.

The survey, released on January 8, was conducted among a national sample of 1,726 adults. It found that 1,233 of those people identified as football fans.

The survey then asked the football fans: “Did you purposely stop watching or attending NFL games this season for any reason?” One-third of respondents said yes.

That group, which the survey labeled as boycotters, was asked why, and was given multiple options. They answered as follows:

  • 32% said they stopped watching or attending NFL games in support of Donald Trump;
  • 22% said they did so in solidarity with players kneeling;
  • 13% said they had no interest in the teams playing;
  • 12% said they boycotted in support of Colin Kaepernick; and
  • 11% said they had distanced themselves from the sport because of news about traumatic brain injuries among players.

Another 8% said “games are boring” and 46% chose “some other reason.”

The results also show an interesting difference between male and female respondents: More men said they turned away from the NFL in support of Trump (35% to 25%), while more women said they did it in support of the players who took to their knees (30% to 17%) or in support of Kaepernick (17% to 10%).

The polling organizations note that there’s a nuance to consider here: Although it’s likely fair to assume that support of Kapernick is the same as support of the protests, it’s possible that there are people who were outraged that no team signed Kaepernick, but were also outraged by the player protests.

Similarly, it’s possible that some people do not like the protests but also do not like Trump’s constant attacks on the NFL. (In a Seton Hall University poll in November,71% of respondents said Trump should “stay out of it.”)

Research contact: @readDanwrite

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