All across the board for the first 3 weeks of the season, the NFL’s ratings are down somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20 percent. The laundry list of excuses is long and continuously cites factors such as the lack of marquee match-ups early in the season, the election season, the absence of P. Manning and Tom Brady, and alternate methods of viewing such as RedZone. Nowhere in the media, with the exception of Mike Ozanian at Forbes Magazine, is anyone willing to concede that the NFL has successfully alienated its’ viewers by promoting the idiotic display of Colin Kaepernick’s anti-Americanism.
If the list of excuses are to be taken at face value, I still don’t think it would add up to the considerable slice of viewers that have tuned out. The numbers instead would reflect a more predictable slow bleed-off in ratings rather than a surprising and instantaneous drop-off. I surfed through the comments sections of a number of sports publications that have covered (and mostly sugar-coated) this interesting development in the ratings, and the comments speak for themselves. A great many people are turned-off by the anti-Americanism, but other factors emerge such as the year-long Brady investigation, the amount of commercials, and a genuine distrust of the integrity of the game (many feel that games are fixed or decided by referees). These factors can be lumped in with public disgust at players beating their children, their women, murdering other people, and dog fighting as potential reasons for people to turn away. When all these factors are taken into account with the recent display of anti-Americanism, people shut off and feel more than justified doing so. This viewers, now angered, are not coming back.
The sports media is 100% to blame. Did the NFL really think that anti-Americanism would increase viewership and public interest? The NFL has weathered numerous public relations disasters over the years, maybe they thought that their bloated viewership would let this cardinal sin pass as well. It didn’t. From the moment Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem, the sports media has been desperate to sell a narrative that this is somehow a good thing, even going so far as to vilify anyone that disagreed with it. The examples in digital sports media are too numerous to cite, but they aren’t hard to find. There was even a nasty little piece that cherry-picked active duty servicemembers supporting Kaepernick. Shannon Sharpe, Stephen A. Smith, and Skip Bayless serve as the chief mouthpieces in trying to sell this narrative that sports fans need to support this anti-American pro-Black Lives Matter movement in sports. It’s darkly Orwellian, they are trying to write their own history, even trying to wedge Kaepernick in with the likes of Mohammed Ali and Jackie Robinson. They shoved the anti-American propaganda out there, now they have to live with the consequences.
In one sense, it is completely laughable. Post 9-11-01, the NFL has spent years branding itself as the sport of America and promoting the US Armed Forces, veterans, Wounded Warriors, etc. It has been good to them until a moron like Kaepernick decides to hijack it. The story, thanks to the shameless sports media, has become bigger than football, and it’s given cause for people to conduct a personal moral inventory. Football, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t important. It turns out people are willing to forgive the plethora of heinous crimes inevitably committed by the players, but not a public display of anti-patriotism. Furthermore, a considerable chunk of football fans are genuinely not interested in seeing a sport become polluted with the cancer of racial politics. Everybody knows somebody that served, and in this day and age of servicemembers volunteering their lives rather than being required to give them, the moral argument is all too clear. The rich, pampered criminals in the NFL will never win a moral argument with America’s heart and soul.
The blood of Charlotte, the blood of the police killed in Dallas, the ashes in Milwaukee…all of these are on the hands of Kaepernick, Smith, Bayless, and Sharpe. Since they started defending Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement, it has grown increasingly more violent and destructive. There are more than enough videos of black demonstrating outright racist behavior, targeting white people, and calling for the death of white police officers. They are only one more chaotic riot away from being socially certified in the media as a terrorist group, too many people have seen the mass destruction they have caused. Whatever their cause is, it is lost in the sounds of screams and sirens. Some media outlets have noted that sports media bozos are meekly trying to distance themselves from the promotion of Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter, but the damage has already been done. The news have already seen the riots, and the NFL has already started it’s long decline in ratings. For Bayless, Smith, Sharpe, and Kaepernick…you can’t un-ring the bell. History will not vindicate them no matter how hard they try to write it. I encourage them to keep trying to validate Kaepernick’s anti-Americanism and Black Lives Matter and see just how much worse it can get for them.
Back to the ratings, it should be noted that this isn’t a “quick-fix” situation, either. If the NFL were to squash this (they should have done so in the pre-season), the fans would not immediately return. Recall the 1994 MLB mid-season strike and how much damage it did to baseball. In many ways, MLB has never recovered and the NFL ended up sweeping up disenfranchised MLB fans. Much the same, Major League Soccer appears to be sweeping up NFL fans, and their viewership seems to be up about 12-15%. MLS is on network tv, has quality players, and the stadiums are filling up. The growth in the Latin population coupled with an alternative for kids interested in sports (but not interested in seeing a zillion commercials) makes MLS a real blue-chipper on the brink of an explosion of interest in the coming years. If MLS stars play well in the upcoming World Cup, the NFL will be permanently crippled. Now is the time to catch an MLS game with your kids since the ticket prices are still very reasonable. Major League Soccer is officially in the sweet spot.
Some congratulations are in order. Congratulations to Colin Kaepernick, Roger Goodell, Mike & Mike, Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe, Rob Dibble, and Stephen A. Smith. Not only have you stoked racial prejudice in America, but you have also shrunk the NFL’s audience. You have all played a part in unwittingly destroying the sports mega-empire that is the NFL. Sponsors aren’t interested in seeing a 15% loss, they are interested in growth and only growth. The money doesn’t lie. Next time, cover the sport, and not the social issue. You have opened the door for MLS. You heard it here first Bleachaholics: Monday Night Football is out, Friday Night Futbol is in!