The NFL locker room is a charged atmosphere.
Dozens of alpha males with strong opinions and personalities are forced to coalesce around a team goal, which can cause friction.
Piercing the sanctity of that environment is challenging for outsiders, but reporters conducting a survey were able to get responses on an array of issues.
Sports Illustrated contributors surveyed 51 members of the Denver Broncos, one of the best teams in the NFL. Here were some of their findings:
These are the results of a survey of one NFL team’s locker room over the course of the 2016 season. Topics ranged from family wealth to voter participation to concussion history.
Approximately 60% of eligible voters in the U.S. cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. Broncos players voted at a rate of 33.3% overall, and an overwhelming majority of black players—22 of 29—didn’t vote in the last presidential election. Players with college degrees voted at a rate of 41.7%, while only 13.3% of those without degrees voted.
Some players expressed confusion as to how to obtain absentee ballots from their home states. Others said they had little interest in the political process. Okung suggested that many of his teammates and Americans at large are either “uninformed” or “misinformed.”
“In my case,” said the 29-year-old offensive tackle, “I felt like I wanted to vote because it’s my duty, especially if I understand the issues. I think a lot of people don’t realize that there’s power in voting, power in being informed.”
NFL players voted well below the national average. The indifference towards politics in general helps explain partly why some teams may be reluctant to add a volatile mix like Colin Kaepernick and his caustic views.
The equilibrium of the locker room is a fragile thing.
The article continued:
A 2015 survey found that 75% of U.S. adults consider religion at least “somewhat important,” and 53% describe religion as “very important.” Eighty percent of the Denver Broncos said that their religion is “very important.”
Multiple players cited the inherent risks of a career in pro football as a way of explaining the disproportionate number of players who consider religion very important in their lives, with each describing the extraordinary faith in a divine plan required to, for instance, return from an ACL injury or simply earn a roster spot in a highly competitive workplace.
Surprisingly the locker room identifies as more religious than the national average. The last paragraph touches on interesting themes about belief.
According to multiple players themselves, their belief (86% identify as Christian) is what gave them the foundation to find success in a near-impossible field; only 1.5% of high school football players go on to have professional careers.
On the subjects of religion and politics, the NFL players seem to say that God is welcome, and government isn’t.