Story at a glance

  • Colin Kaepernick was denounced by many in the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest.
  • In recent years, Americans have become more supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and such protests.
  • A new survey found that a majority of fans would not stop watching the NFL over political reasons.

While Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned this fall, a new study found that nearly 50 percent of NFL fans have changed their mind about his decision to kneel since 2016, when almost 28 percent of fans opposed the protest. 

GamblersPick, an online casino review platform, surveyed 1,003 NFL fans using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing marketplace, 64.7 percent of whom were men and 35 percent were women (two were nonbinary). The NFL's viewership has skewed male in the past, but in recent years more and more women are watching — rising to an all-time high of 47 percent this year.  


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In total, 69 percent of NFL fans support the Black lives matter movement while almost 15 percent oppose it, according to the survey. But only 11 percent of fans said they would stop watching if players protest or show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, concentrated more around some teams than others. Fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were more opposed to the protest than Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens fans, who largely support Black Lives Matter. 

Politics in general matter less overall to Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Houston Texans fans when it comes to their favorite players, while fans of the Washington Football team, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets were most likely to care. 


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In an internal memo, executives said, “We see no evidence that concern over player protests during the National Anthem is having any material impact on our ratings. In fact, our own data shows that perception of the NFL and its players is actually up in 2016.”

 

Viewership is down after week two of the regular season, which started without preseason games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like other professional sports, football has had to make some concessions due to the ongoing pandemic, with some players opting out of the season and games being played with some or no fans. In response to recent Black Lives Matter protests, the league played the song known as the Black national anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing," before the national anthem for the first week — which the survey said 1 in 4 NFL fans opposed. But more than 80 percent of fans were more concerned about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the league than the Black Lives Matter movement.


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Published on Sep 22, 2020