Protest the anthem, ratings go down, fan interest wanes. But, social justice is important!
I was recently watching Fox Sports “Undisputed” where Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless were talking about the suspension of the new NFL Anthem policy. Sharpe says it’s appropriate to protest during the anthem to raise awareness for issues important to the players. Jason Whitlock suggests it’s harmful, hurts the game because nothing changes and fans are not interested in hearing about political causes when they want to watch a game.
For players looking to raise awareness, they certainly did but not in the good way. The act itself became a controversy which drowned out the original message. The NFL, trying to leverage social media platforms to push its brand, ended up with egg on its face after significant drops in key areas.
Many owners and fans want the players to stop pushing their political agendas. Players feel they have a constitutional right to express their views and kneeling during the anthem is the only way to raise awareness. And yet, if you’re a player who makes disparaging remarks that put the NFL in a bad light, you can be fined. See Marshawn Lynch and James Harrison.
Ticket sales are down. So is viewership. Networks are privately complaining it’s affecting advertising rates. ESPN has signaled the controversy may cause the network to abandon Monday Night Football rights during the next contract negotiation especially since ratings have tanked.
Protesting the anthem is not a money maker and the numbers prove it. One could say that protesting puts the NFL in a bad light, but Goodell, who recently signed a new $40 million a year contract, wants a more socially responsible organization. Players already support many causes that raise millions. Players protesting the anthem hurts business, but to appease the players, the NFL is going to contribute close to $70 million to social justice causes.
I’m not a Chief Executive of a large corporation. I can’t imagine reporting to the Board of Directors that despite losing money, our social justice campaign is working well with the political ideology of the left. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be a CEO for very long.
Guess I won’t be watching anytime soon.