According to a recent poll conducted by Seton Hall, when asked about the factors precipitating the decline in NFL TV ratings, 56% cited the protest against the National Anthem, initially by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers’, and subsequently other players around the league.
Americans generally revere the Anthem and the American Flag as representations of the service and sacrifice made by millions of Americans to secure and preserve freedom; and it should not be surprising that many fans would react negatively, and express their sentiment by deciding not to watch America’s most popular television sport.
The league leadership and team owners failed to act against this form of protest, when they should have imposed mandatory policy of standing for the national anthem. This managerial cowardice on the part of the league leadership is now predictably impacting their ratings, and likely their revenue stream if this player protest continues during televised league games.
NFL players are contract employees, and there is nothing prohibiting the league from imposing a mandatory workplace policy which requires players to stand in honor of the National Anthem. Players have a Constitutional right to protest, but the employer has a right to regulate behavior in the work environment. It will be interesting to see whether the league commissioner and league owners change their response to the expected continuation of these player protests.
By Allen Sutton