Sam Hanna Jr.: Tuning out the NFL – The Franklin Sun

I used to enjoy watching NFL football on a Sunday afternoon.

Like millions of Americans across the country, I tuned out when scores of ball players throughout the NFL exhibited blatant disrespect for our National Anthem and the American flag to supposedly draw attention to racial inequality in America. In the process, the ball player protestors, who took it upon themselves to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem, spit in the face of every man and woman who’s served our nation in the armed forces, including the hundreds of thousands of men and women who fought and died for our freedom.

As any sports fan knows, this nonsense reared its ugly head last season when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to supposedly protest the manner in which law enforcement officers deal with black Americans. In Kaepernick’s world, or at least we were led to believe by the press, there somehow exists a vast conspiracy among police officers to treat black Americans like second-class citizens and in some cases, shoot them dead for no apparent reason. I suppose we, as well as the police, are expected to disregard the felonious behavior that permeates many predominantly black neighborhoods.

Like most ball players who become a problem for an NFL team, Kaepernick and his employer parted ways following the 2016 season. The official word was he opted out of his contract. Maybe so, but no NFL team ventured into the world of the deranged to sign Kaepernick in the offseason. Even the ball clubs that desperately needed a good backup QB took a pass on signing the troublemaker.

Now, Kaepernick is threatening to file a grievance against the NFL, claiming every team in the league colluded to deny him an opportunity to play in 2017. Perhaps he’s just not worth the headache.

Fast forward to last month when the new NFL season began and players across the league took up Kaepernick’s cause. President Donald Trump eventually weighed in and suggested the protesting players should be fired. The league, as well as the press, just about wet their britches in response to the president’s opinion on the matter.

How have the American people responded?

A Gallup poll released late last week says the NFL’s popularity has dropped 10 percent in recent years though the poll didn’t necessarily drill down on the public’s attitude toward players taking a knee during the National Anthem. A Rasmussen poll in September found that 34 percent of adults in America were less likely to follow the NFL this year because of the protests.

Meanwhile, according to the outfit that determines how many people watch NFL games on television, overall game viewership is down 18 percent compared to the 2015 season. According to Nielsen, some 15 million people have been watching NFL games each week this season beginning with the Thursday night contests and wrapping up with Monday Night Football. Two years ago, more than 18 million folks were tuning in each week.

What does this mean?

It means advertisers aren’t getting the bang for their buck by advertising during NFL contests. After all, the TV networks that broadcast NFL games promise advertisers a certain number of people will tune in for each contest. When those ratings don’t jive with what the networks promised, the networks must give advertisers “make goods,” or free ads at some point in the future.

At least one estimate pegged the loss in revenue for the networks at $14 billion this season alone. Eventually, the fallout will trickle down, or up, to the NFL itself, particularly if the protests continue until 2022 when the league must renegotiate its contracts with the networks. It’s not clear on whether the networks could demand a renegotiation of their contracts with the league sooner than 2022.

Without question, the black community in America can point to periods in our nation’s history in which the black race was treated horribly. Yes, there have been instances — even in the 21st century — in which black Americans were mistreated by police officers. The white community can claim the same.

But to suggest that there exists an anti-minority or anti-black attitude among police officers throughout the country is simply ludicrous. The facts — FBI crime data and the like — just don’t add up.

Yet, we live in a free country. NFL football players are more than welcome to do whatever it is they may deem necessary to shed light on an issue that’s near and dear to their hearts. If they wish to continue to kneel during the playing of our National Anthem, more power to them. It’s their right to express their opinion.

Just like it’s my right to do something other than watch an NFL football game on a Sunday afternoon.

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