Nearly one-third of the National Football League’s best fans are blowing a whistle in disgust over the season of political protests, according to a new survey.
The WG Sports Survey, singling out fans who watch at least two football games a season, found that 32 percent have an “unfavorable” view of the game. Another 63 percent had a favorable view.
The shocking unfavorable number is twice as high as for any other team sports. Baseball’s unfavorable rating, for example, is just 6 percent, truly making it America’s Sport.
“The data shows when it comes to brand image, almost one third of the NFL’s potential fan base (those who watched at least 2 games) had an unfavorable view of the NFL. This contrasts with the fan bases of other sports which enjoy stronger, more favorable brand images. What was particularly interesting was looking at the contrast with college football which had 24 percent more favorables (and 23 percent less unfavorables) than the NFL among its potential fan base,” said the analysis from the Washington-based Winston Group.
Overall in the new poll provided to Secrets, the NFL recorded a remarkable plummet in its unfavorable rating from just 23 percent before the first kick off this year to 40 percent, the highest of any sport. It’s favorable rating dropped from 57 percent to 44 percent today.
During that time, President Trump slammed players and team executives for taking a knee to protest a number of issues, including racism. Meanwhile, fans have protested on their own by going to fewer games, watching fewer games on TV and even eating less pizza from sponsor Papa John’s.
And lately, the league and its team owners have revealed an internal feud over Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jones wants Goodell’s contract ended, while the NFL has reacted by considering the removal of Jones.
Maybe as a result, there was no bounce back from the bad September ratings found in the WG Sports Survey. The November survey analysis said bluntly, “There was no comeback for the NFL’s brand in October after significant slippage in September.”
And men, the core of NFL fans, did not return to the sport. Said the analysis:
“Overall male favorables, which had fallen 23 percent going from 68 percent to 45 percent, saw only slight change in this survey coming in at 47 percent, up 2 points. Males 35-54 favorables which had previously fallen 31 percent, going from 73 percent to 42 percent, bumped up to 48 percent, a positive for the NFL. But older males 55+ favorables in this survey slipped another 4 points down to 39 percent after falling 21 percent in September. A majority 54 percent among this key sports demographic, males 55+, now have an unfavorable view of the NFL.”
The poll provided an intriguing look into football fans. It found that 54.6 percent watch two or more games a year, a solid fan base.
Of those devoted fans, the Winston Group then asked each how many games they actually watch, and came out with an average number of 14.9 games. For college football it was 15.2 games, baseball 33 games, pro basketball 18 games and the NHL 19.6 games.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org