The NFL stumbled out the gate with the 2020 season.
Empty stadiums due to the Wuhan virus created bad optics for the league.
But the NFL anti-American protests just caused one huge headache for the league.
For years, leftists in favor of NFL players kneeling for the anthem swore that kneeling wasn’t a sign of disrespect for the American flag or the country more broadly; it was simply a gesture to raise awareness about police brutality.
But that lie can no longer hold.
In 2017, while playing a game in London, members of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens kneeled for the Star-Spangled Banner, but stood for “God Save the Queen.”
The players made a similarly anti-American move during opening weekend for the NFL.
Members of the Baltimore Ravens stood for “Lift Every and Sing,” the unofficial black national anthem, then kneeled for the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Ravens stood for the black national anthem. And then most of the team kneeled for the national anthem. That, my friends, is a REALLY bad look.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 13, 2020
The show of disrespect for the country is undeniable.
Other players on other teams also kneeled for the anthem, and fans in Kansas City voiced their displeasure.
Even a member of the Dallas Cowboys took a knee; the franchise deemed “America’s Team” had been one of the holdouts on protesting, but team owner Jerry Jones recently softened his stance on the issue.
Ratings for the NFL’s season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans was down 13% from the previous year.
This is a serious problem for the league, especially when fan interest was supposed to be higher with so many people trapped inside because of the Wuhan virus.
Apparently, the NFL hasn’t learned its lesson from 2017 and 2018 when the anthem protests killed league viewership.
Many fans canceled their season tickets, and millions stopped watching on television.
The NFL has an upcoming collective bargaining agreement, and the Players’ Association needs to realize they aren’t doing themselves any favors with the anti-American protests.
Even putting aside financials, the players are not changing hearts and minds.
Support for Black Lives Matter has receded to its pre-George Floyd levels.
The NFL’s public image problem is a disaster that none of the adults in the room seem too motivated to solve.
Sports writer Jason Whitlock summed up the fan antipathy to the protests with the following statement:
“Social media and the athletes addicted to Twitter and Instagram define BLM as a long-overdue fight for racial equality. Many Americans see BLM for exactly what it is — a clever disguise for Marxists and anarchists who seek to destroy American freedoms — and those citizens are growing more comfortable expressing their disdain for the BLM movement.”
Until the players understand that there are legitimate reasons why the fans are pushing back, they will continue to drive away support.