By Danny Griswold
Football is the most popular sport in America and it is a significant part of the American culture, as families and friends get together every weekend to watch the games together. While high school and college football are a major part of this culture, they don’t compare to the National Football League. For decades now, the NFL has been the most popular professional sport in the United States. The Super Bowl is normally the highest rated TV broadcast of the year with upwards of 100 million viewers. Fans tune in every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday to see their favorite teams and players on the field.
Over the past few years though, the NFL has seen a decline in ratings. Last year, the drop was blamed on the historically popular 2016 presidential election. However, this year there is no election and the ratings are still declining. According to an espn.com article, the NFL ratings through the first six weeks are down 7.5% compared to the first six weeks of last season. According to ESPN, this could be caused by many reasons but two of the most prevalent are the national anthem protests, and the quality of games.
The NFL seems to be faced with a new controversy on a weekly basis. The major controversy this year has been the national anthem protests. Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem last season to protest police brutality against minorities amongst other reasons. The protesting grew this year after President Trump said that players who protested during the national anthem should be fired. He also said the NFL owner’s response to players protesting
should be, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” As quoted by CNN.
His comments led to a larger number of kneelers during the anthem than any week prior. This has divided the NFL fan base with some believing the players can protest in any way they choose, and others believing it is disrespectful to the country and the military to protest during the national anthem. This has caused the NFL to become the seventh most divisive brand in the country according to an article in the New York Times. Many fans are refusing to watch the NFL because of these national anthem protests which is a factor in the declining ratings.
Another reason for the decline in NFL ratings comes from the actual games themselves. Many speculate that there are too many games and the fans are losing interest due to oversaturation. There is a game Thursday night, around 12 games during the day on Sunday, an additional one Sunday night, and a game Monday night. Some casual fans just don’t care about the game enough to watch that much football. It isn’t just the number of games that is a problem, but also the quality of the games. Games are filled with punts, missed field goals, penalties, injuries, and low scoring. SI.com stated that through the first 30 games of the 2017 season, games were decided by an average of 12.9 points, which means games haven’t been competitive.
This lack of quality could be a result of major injuries to the game’s best players this year. Injuries are always a factor in the NFL but this season seems to have the most injuries to big name players. NFL stars such as Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Julian Edelman, and Odell Beckham Jr. have all sustained season ending injuries. With these key players out for the season, the quality of the game has suffered and fans are not as interested.
The NFL needs to figure out a solution to these problems before the ratings decline any further. The NFL is not meant to be a league that divides its fans and causes people to refuse to watch. They need to fix the issue with the national anthem protesting and bring the league together. Fixing the quality of the game is a harder task that can only be done through rule changes, but they should still attempt to improve it. The NFL has to find a way to bring back its lost viewers and avoid controversy in the future.