The National Football League season got fully underway on Sunday, with some players kneeling and raising fists in protest over racial injustice while others stayed off the field for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” America’s national anthem.
In the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons, players dropped to one knee just after the opening kickoff. Minnesota Vikings players locked arms a half-hour before their game against the Green Bay Packers as “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is being called the Black anthem, was played. In Washington, D.C., members of the Philadelphia Eagles stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.
Some fans didn’t like politics mixing with their Sunday sports. “I think the NFL is taking a big misstep in making their product not about the game of football and making it about the political agendas of some of its players,” Packers fan Andy Duffrin of Marinette, Wisconsin, told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “The proof is in the pudding and the pudding they are about to serve up is not going to taste very good to a lot of loyal fans.”
At the season opener between the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Houston Texans — one of the few contests to include fans in the stadium — the crowd’s boos rained down on players as they linked arms on the field.
“After the Houston Texans remained in the locker room during the national anthem, fans booed them when they emerged from the tunnel at its conclusion. The booing continued as the two teams walked to midfield and shook hands, their interlocked arms stretched from one end zone to the other during what was supposed to be a moment of silence,” the Associated Press reported.
The ratings were not good, with Nielsen Media Research announcing the prime-time game between the Texans and the Chiefs dropped 11% in the key 18-49 demographic, even with digital views up, according to Deadline.
One national pollster found that Americans don’t like their football mixed with politics.
“According to Gallup, the sports industry now boasts a negative image among U.S. adults: 30 percent see the sports industry positively, compared to 40 percent reporting a negative image,” The Federalist reported. “This year’s survey illustrates a 30 percent decline from American views on the sports industry a year ago, when the corporate sports enjoyed a net positive 20 percent rating, with 45 percent of Americans reporting a favorable opinion compared to 25 percent who said otherwise.”
Gallup shows sports favorability among Republicans sinking overwhelmingly in comparison to Democrats, with a 46 percent drop in a positive outlook among Republicans whereas Democrats only saw a 5 percent drop in their favorability towards corporate sports in the last year.
Non-white Americans also dropped their support for the industry more steeply than did white Americans. White Americans now express a net-negative 22 percent sports rating while non-white Americans hold a 16 percent net-positive.
Before the NFL season began, President Trump warned against politicizing sports. “People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back. I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!!” the president wrote on Twitter.
People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back. I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
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