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Paul Albaugh / Oct. 18, 2016

It's No Mystery Why NFL Viewers Are Tuning Out

Unless you're willing to ignore the obvious — national anthem protests.

The National Football League, a favorite of millions of Americans, has seen TV ratings drop precipitously this season. While this is certainly not a major concern for Liberty loving Americans, some of whom couldn’t care less about watching overpaid athletes give each other concussions, the reasons for this decline are worth pondering.

What is interesting is that many sports analysts and league personnel are looking at every possible reason — except for the foolish behavior of some players who have decided it’s in their best interest to “take a stand” by kneeling in protest to our nation’s flag and the national anthem.

The Washington Post notes that network and league executives are “scrambling to identify causes” for the drop in ratings that has been the trend up through week five of the regular season. The Post suggests the problem could be that it’s an election year. In 2008, ratings for the NFL dropped 2% for the year’s entirety while in 2000 ratings dropped 10%. “During the first five weeks of this [season],” the Post says, “ratings have declined 15 percent compared with the entirety of last year.”

The Post also suggests that ratings could be falling because — get this — there is a lack of stardom in the NFL. Players such as Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch and Tom Brady have either retired or been suspended from the game and their non-appearance on TV is allegedly causing viewers to lose interest in the game. What about the other stars, or rising ones who come on the scene every year? They don’t have an impact on viewers?

Some analysts point out that the market is fragmented by games being aired on Thursday, Sundays and Mondays and that many of the season’s matchups have been “uncompetitive or underwhelming.” While all of these reasons could cumulatively be causes for NFL ratings to drop, the Post failed to point out what’s likely the primary reason for it. Many viewers are outraged over the actions of some of the NFL’s player’s lack of patriotism and downright disdain for our nation.

Indeed, the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, among others who’ve imitated his deplorable behavior, received no mention from the Post’s sports analysts.

Writing for National Review, columnist Victor Davis Hanson lays out his view of Kaepernick’s behavior: “His fad of ritually trashing the United States has now saturated millions of living rooms. His anti-American tirades and adolescent stage act enraged viewers, even after the refusal to stand for the anthem spread throughout the league without criticism from the NFL hierarchy — odd, given the now fossilized red/white/blue star-studded NFL logo.”

He further notes that “the NFL has a long history of insisting that all political messaging and behavior remain taboo and absent from the turf, from expressing support for fallen police to patriotic demonstrations.” Apparently not anymore. The NFL and its executives have turned a blind eye to Kaepernick and little has been said and nothing has been done to thwart his un-patriotic, un-American behavior.

The NFL is actually in denial that player protests have anything to with the drop in ratings. In fact, as David French writes, the league claims that “its own ‘data’ shows that player protests are not a factor, that fans aren’t tuning out because the league is relaxing its notorious restrictions on player self-expression so long as those players are social justice warriors.”

The league is alienating its fan base by refusing to deal with these social justice warriors, who are drawing attention to themselves and their political views instead of the game they are playing.

Fortunately, a huge contingent of the fans in Buffalo were having none of it, chanting loudly, “USA! USA!” when the visiting Kaepernick decided to protest the national anthem by kneeling. After the game Kaepernick stated, “I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for.”

Actually, he doesn’t understand history. He doesn’t understand that the very flag and anthem he is protesting is the flag that millions of American Patriots have died for, to secure his right to express his contemptuous political views. Perhaps he should visit a third-world country or a communist country to see what no Liberty and no justice really looks like.

The NFL should consider making it a league rule that players will stand for the national anthem or not play. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones implemented that rule for his team and at least one hockey team in the NHL has done the same. It’s simple; if you can’t stand for the national anthem and pay respect to the flag and those who fought and died for it — and the Americans paying through the nose to watch you play a game — then feel free to sit on the bench. If the player doesn’t like it then they can find another career that pays them millions. Until then, TV viewers have better things to do.

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