Professional football has been turned from epic national entertainment into a billboard for political speechifying, and this season’s initials ratings show how many fans are sprinting for the exits.
Just days after the NFL Kickoff Game on Sept. 10 saw a huge plunge in television ratings, the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams fumbled the audience-ball badly in Week 1, reported Deadline.com.
No one should be surprised; the day also saw league-wide player and team protests that continue to alienate fans who just want to watch a game. The massive ratings hit came with two of the most popular NFL teams on the field but no fans in the stands due to coronavirus.
Thursday’s opening game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs drew 19.3 million viewers, which was a 16.1 percent drop from the opener in 2019.
According to Deadline.com, only 14.81 million viewers watched Sunday night’s clash between the Rams and Cowboys. Even without Nielsen data from the West Coast, the numbers show a drastic drop from the 22.2 million viewers Sunday Night Football attracted in Week 1 of 2019, with the New England Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While part of the decline can be attributed to COVID-19 countermeasures, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been allowing the sports league to become a soapbox where players who earns millions per year publicly demonstrate their dissatisfaction with and disapproval of the United States, and to claim police brutality when black suspects are harmed in a disproportionate number of encounters with police.
Goodell expressed support of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, defending the right of players to use the NFL as a protest stage.