That the NFL ratings have tanked so far this season is a point that has been noted by numerous sources, including Forbes.com. Figuring out the reason for the decline is not simple, so long as we admit that there could be many variables that contribute into something complex like TV-viewership patterns. However, most that comment on the issue have cited the Colin Kaepernick protests as being off-putting to NFL viewers for political reasons (ie. Leigh Steinberg, Forbes.com, October 27th). Furthermore, that the 2016/17 NFL season had, prior to Week 10, overlapped with the presidential campaigning can't be ignored. In fact Donald Trump himself claimed that politics beat the NFL over the last few months.
Speaking at a rally in Colorado in late October, Trump stated the following: “I don't know if you know — the NFL is way down in their ratings. And you know why? Two reasons,” the Republican said. “Number one is this politics, they’re finding, is a much rougher game than football, and more exciting. And this, honestly, we've taken a lot of people away from the NFL. And the other reason is Kaepernick.”
NFL ratings in post-election USA
But the presidential campaigning is over as of early last week and that means that it's possible to look at recent NFL ratings, ones from the most-recent weekend, in the post-election era. A November 15th article at SportsMediaWatch.com, suggests that things may in fact be turning around for the NFL. The article looks at the ratings for the Seattle Seahawks' and the New England Patriots' recent game with the following headline: "NFL Week 10 Finals: Seahawks/Pats Hits 18-Year Viewership High." The bullet points of the article are as follows:
- "Seahawks/Patriots....up 11% in ratings and 16% in viewership from (similarly-scheduled game) last year";
- "The Seahawks’ win...was the most-watched primetime NFL game in Week 10 of the season in 18 years";
- "Sunday’s game was the most-watched primetime NFL telecast since Week 1 and tied as the highest rated."
There is limited insight when it comes to looking at just one game. However, I don't think that the spike in NFL ratings for this game can be dismissed as mere coincidence given that coverage of the presidential campaigns were long seen as competing with NFL ratings. Where the pollsters had the election predictions wrong, perhaps the ratings pundits got the reasons for the NFL's declining ratings right.
Trump remains a spectacle
The presidential election campaign was gripping as it featured the rise to power of a man who now, as the president-elect, strikes fear into the hearts of what could be millions in the USA and tens of millions of people worldwide. Aspects of that fear have to do with the support he received from the KKK, Trump's climate change denial, his derogatory statements about women, and his anti-immigration sentiments.
Given that fear, with Trump winning the election, should Americans be returning to business as usual? Can you buy into the drama of which team will win the Super Bowl with so many more important political matters at hand? Is there a balance between the two and, if so, then what is it?
So far the balance for many has been politics first as nationwide #notmypresident protests have been a nightly feature in American news ever since Donald Trump won the college electoral vote. Whether that will change as the popular Dallas Cowboys march toward the post-season behind the play of youngsters Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott remains to be seen. However, if it does change then hopefully increased interest in sports doesn't mean political apathy as there are pressing human survival issues with climate change, immigration, racism, and sexism that are far more important than who wins the Super Bowl. I understand the need to chill out with the boob tube and people, including men, write about sports a lot, but it's my opinion that neither should be done to the extent that a blind eye is turned to everything that Trump will do as president. #DonaldTrump #DallasCowboys #NFLratings