The NBA had a disastrous conclusion to the 2019-20 season.
Television viewership collapsed in a profound way.
But the NBA’s latest ratings taught the league one lesson about anti-Trump protests.
In light of George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis, the sports world became unbearably “woke.”
The NBA fully embraced woke politics when the COVID-shortened season returned inside the insulated “bubble” in Orlando, Florida.
Black Lives Matter was plastered on the courts, and players wore social justice slogans like “say their names” on the backs of their jerseys.
At the height of the “woke” hysteria, players boycotted an actual playoff game after an alleged rapist was shot by the police for resisting arrest.
As a result of the over-the-top political messaging, the NBA’s playoff ratings were abysmal.
The ratings for the deciding game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat were down nearly 70% from last year.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver signaled that the league would move away from the overt message in response to the ratings collapse, and thus far, that appears to be the case.
The NBA’s 2020-21 season just kicked off, and all of the obtrusive political messaging was gone.
Most of the players stood for the national anthem; in contrast, Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac was harassed by the sports media for not kneeling alongside his teammates.
Isaac cited his Christian faith as the reason why he chose to stand.
According to Sports Media Watch:
“The NBA’s Opening Night doubleheader averaged a Nielsen-estimated 2.87 million viewers on TNT Tuesday night, up 1% from last year (2.85M), up 2% from 2018 (2.82M), and the most-watched Opening Night since 2017 (4.88M).”
After experiencing a historic ratings collapse only two months ago, the league rebounded after shedding the political propaganda.
One of the excuses for the ratings collapse was that there were no fans in the seats, which made for a bad television viewing experience.
But fans still are not allowed inside, so that factor has remained constant.
Overt political messaging was one of the main reasons given for the decreased interest in watching the NBA, and that seems to be the case as the new season kicks off.
The rioting and looting and anti-police rhetoric of 2020 turned millions of Americans off to the protests that swept across the nation.
It was bad enough for people having to watch their neighborhoods destroyed, but they also had to see multimillionaire athletes side with the marauders causing damage.
The NBA might struggle bringing fans back into the fold, but removing the slogans from the courts and the players’ jerseys were an important first step.
Next, the league will somehow have to deal with the problem of kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party.