Over just one month of player, coach, and owner protests of the flag and National Anthem, the National Football League has gone from America's sport to the least liked of top professional and college sports, according to a new poll.
From the end of August to the end of September, the favorable ratings for the NFL have dropped from 57 percent to 44 percent, and it has the highest unfavorable rating – 40 percent – of any big sport, according to the Winston Group survey provided exclusively to Secrets.
Worse for football, which was already seeing lower TV ratings and empty stadium seats, the month of protests and complaints about them from President Trump drove core fans, men 34-54, away, the most significant indicator that NFL brass aren't in touch with their base.
The Winston Poll from the Washington-based Winston Group found that the attitude of those fans went from an August rating of 73 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, a remarkable turn against the sport.
According to the poll analysis, "more critically for the NFL, the fall off in favorables occurred among important audiences. Among males, NFL favorables fell 23 percent, going from 68 percent to 45 percent. In looking at a more specific audience, males 34-54, NFL favorables fell 31 percent, going from 73 percent to 42 percent. Among this group the NFL has a surprising negative image, as it went from +54 percent in August to -5 percent in September."
The Winston Poll was of brand images for the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and college football and basketball. It was of 1,000 registered voters and taken August 29-30 and then again September 28-29.
In August, baseball had the highest favorables, just a few points above the NFL.
August Winston Poll
- MLB/61 percent favorable to 13 percent unfavorable.
- NFL/57 percent favorable to 23 percent unfavorable.
- College football/53 percent favorable to 16 percent unfavorable.
- College basketball/48 percent favorable to 17 percent unfavorable.
- NBA/47 percent unfavorable to 23 percent unfavorable.
September Winston Poll
- MLB/63 percent favorable to 16 percent unfavorable.
- College football/51 percent favorable to 21 percent unfavorable.
- NBA/46 percent favorable to 28 percent unfavorable.
- College basketball/45 percent favorable to 25 percent unfavorable.
- NFL/44 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable.
During the month, the college basketball drop was likely influenced by the suspension of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino who is linked to a scandal.
According to the Winston Poll, every category of NFL fan saw a drop in support.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org