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Sports viewers shift habits as social justice messaging increases: poll

One-third of Americans in a new poll released this week say they are watching less professional sports due to social justice messaging from players, leagues and teams.

A YouGov-Yahoo News survey found that 34 percent of respondents said they are watching pro sports less frequently due to calls for racial justice from sports figures, with 11 percent saying they now watch more often. 

A majority, more than 56 percent, said they are watching about the same amount of pro sports as they were before calls for racial justice were renewed.

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Television ratings for all major college and pro sports have been down over the last year, a trend industry experts attribute to altered game times and dates due to the coronavirus pandemic and a focus on a presidential election, Yahoo reported. 

Following the death of George Floyd last summer, several high-profile athletes and coaches like LeBron James and Drew Brees said sports figures have a responsibility to use their platforms to promote social justice messaging.

The NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have all pledged to do more to help anti-racism initiatives and work in local communities to fight systemic racism.

The Yahoo News survey was conducted Feb. 20-22 by YouGov among 1,601 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.