NFL ratings have been one of the most discussed topics in sports at the moment. As TV ratings have hit a steady decline over the past two years, people have been wondering the cause for why they might be down. Among the many theories, including the most probable which is that TV viewership in general declining, the one that gets the most chatter is that the NFL is suffering from players protesting during the national anthem and fans being turned off of the product.
The protests, which began with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have been a constant source of outrage and controversy since he began kneeling last year to shine a light on racial inequality and police brutality. Kaepernick has not played this year, but his message has grown and his form of protest has continued through other NFL players.
The Bay Area’s NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, may be the NBA’s big ticket attraction, but, as a group, they’ve never shied away from speaking their minds on current affairs and social issues. In that light, Warriors forward David West recently offered up a theory of his own on why the NFL ratings are sagging, and how it’s the opposite of what most have suggested.
On a recent episode of the Warriors Insider Podcast on NBC Sports Bay Area, West surmises that part of the reason that NFL ratings are down is that people aren’t watching because of how Kaepernick has been treated. He noted fans see the lack of quality quarterback play and the lesser players being signed ahead of Kaepernick, and believes that, as much as anything, fans have turned off the NFL because of Kaepernick’s lack of employment and that fan is being ignored by the league.
“That idea is not being talked about enough,” West said. “It’s the other way around. They’re saying people aren’t watching the NFL because guys are protesting.
“I’m not sure that the numbers, if we really, really look at who’s watching and who’s not going, I’m not sure that those numbers are the way that they are projecting them to be, in my opinion. I think there are a lot of people who aren’t watching because of the way Colin Kaepernick is being treated.”
The veteran Warriors forward does have a point, in all of the hubbub about the fans that haven’t watched a minute of the NFL, it’s mainly highlighted fans who are ignoring the NFL because of the anthem protests. Rather than the fans who have chosen not to view because of the NFL’s alleged blackballing of Kaepernick. One can assume that it’s because the anti-Kaepernick crowd has chosen to be far more vocal, or because there may be a value judgement in thinking those that are pro-Kaepernick don’t count equally.
Regardless, West does have a valid point that pro-Kaepernick fans have roundly been ignored when it comes to fretting over NFL ratings. Perhaps when the ratings book comes out at the end of the year and the demographics of who’s not watching the NFL are in bold print, the powers that be will pay attention then.