Commentary: New Evidence Shows Key Fans Unhappy with Sports Leagues Kowtowing to Black Lives Matter

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by Anne Hendershott


If anyone was hoping that the return of the long-awaited Major League season would lift our spirits and bring us together, they had to be disappointed to learn that we are more divided than ever over the National Anthem kneeling debate. And although President Trump has not chosen to join the burgeoning #BoycottMLB movement on Twitter, the president has joined a growing number of disheartened baseball fans who are unhappy that their favorite teams are taking the knee. Even before the start of the season, President Trump tweeted that he was “looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!”

This is not a small issue. Rasmussen released a new poll of 1,000 Americans which indicates that “Americans are sending more negative signals than positive ones over the decision by many professional sports organizations to promote the controversial Black Lives Matter movement.”

The poll, released on July 31, revealed that more than 30 percent of American adults are less likely to watch sporting events that promote Black Lives Matter versus 21 percent who are more likely to do so. It is even worse for those “frequent watchers” who follow professional sports on television, in person, on the radio, or online once a week or less. Roughly 35 percent say they are less likely to watch events that promote the BLM protests.

Although 43 percent of all respondents say such promotion will have no impact on their viewing habits, a deeper analysis of the demographic data reveals that sponsors of these sporting events will be especially unhappy to learn that when the coveted target demographic group — young male beer drinkers — are also the ones more willing to say that they are less likely to watch. Forty-three percent of men under 40 years old indicated that they are less likely to watch sporting events that promote the Black Lives Matter movement, and only 2 percent of men under 40 are more likely to watch sporting events that promote BLM. And even though 22 percent of women under 40 years old indicated that they are more likely to watch sporting events that promote the BLM movement, far fewer women watch sports at all. Forty-two percent of all women polled claim to watch sports “rarely or never.”

Not surprisingly there are some differences by race, but the differences are not as significant as one might predict. While 38 percent of Blacks are more likely to watch sporting events that promote the BLM movement, an astounding 28 percent of Blacks indicated that they are “less likely” to do so. That 28 percent is exactly the same percentage of Whites who indicated that they too are less likely to watch sporting events promoting BLM. But racial differences are apparent in the low percentage of Whites (only 19 percent) who indicate that they are more likely to watch sporting events that promote BLM.

The most dramatic demographic differences emerge from political party affiliation, as 43 percent of all Republicans are less likely to watch sporting events that promote BLM, compared with only 19 percent of all Democrats indicating that they will be less likely to watch.

All of this could have been easily predicted based on historical data collected since the earliest days of the Colin Kaepernick kneeling protests. Even the NFL, after making feeble attempts to blame the ratings dips on the “attention around our presidential election,” had to admit that the Kaepernick kneeling protests were negatively affecting viewership and attempted to address the problem. But, all of that has been forgotten in the current racial climate.

Continuing its commitment to exacerbating the controversy, the New York Times has published an article with the headline: “The Anthem Debate Is Back. But Now It’s Standing That’s Polarizing.” Claiming that “today, athletes may have to explain why they chose to stand, not kneel, during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ ” John Branch, the Times writer, suggested that “the difference in 2020 as sports begin to emerge from their pandemic suspensions, is that nearly every professional athlete will be forced to choose a posture.” The Times built its argument on an interview with Charles Ross, a history professor and director of African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, who said, “You cannot sit around now in this post-George Floyd period we’re in and say ‘We’re going to continue to take this safe position.… Either you have an issue with racism or you do not.”

Some sports fans disagree. In fact, it is likely that most sports fans just want to enjoy sports again and would prefer to end the polarizing debates on the fields of play. The NFL found this out in 2016 but obviously has decided to revisit this debate yet again. League commissioner Roger Goodell recently showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and reversed his statements on player protests, telling Branch, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”

In the meantime, professional athletes like 25-year-old Rachel Hill, a player with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars, who choose to remain standing and honoring the flag, are shamed. When attacked on social media, Hill responded that she chose to stand “because of what the flag inherently means for my military family members and to me, but I 100% support my peers.… I support the black lives matter movement wholeheartedly. I also support and will do my part in fighting against the current inequality. As a white athlete, it is way past due for me to be diligently anti-racist.”

Hill’s explanation wasn’t good enough for Branch, who concluded his article with the criticism that “Hill tried to have it both ways.… There is little room for such posturing.”

It is difficult to predict whether baseball fans will indeed be “less likely” to watch. In a sports-starved world still recovering from the COVID lockdowns, it is possible that fans will continue to crave the comfort of a good ball game and begin to overlook the politics. But it is also clear that these are perilous times for athletes and for fans.

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Anne Hendershott is an occasional contributor to American Spectator.












Appeared at and reprinted from The American Spectator

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15 Thoughts to “Commentary: New Evidence Shows Key Fans Unhappy with Sports Leagues Kowtowing to Black Lives Matter”

  1. Sharon

    Guess we will see how this ultimately affects the protesters themselves. It eventually has to trickle down to their salaries being cut since people won’t be purchasing their merchandise, attending games not watching them on TV. Good luck with that.

  2. David

    I agree that watching sports is what I do when trying to relax so mixing drama into the event will not work for me so count me out. Sure the NFL/NBA does not care but even I know that changing demographics of fans has killed more than one league.
    Good luck living with your call….I will wait fir the next league to pick up the pieces..

  3. Joe Blow

    Agree with other commentators: Pro sports leagues that style themselves as a political outfit are dead to me. It’s like your mechanic forcing you to listen to their nutrition advice just to get your car fixed. Most retarded conflation ever, and it _should_ bankrupt the lot of them. Granted their ’employee’s’ are typically 95% black so I understand having to say SOMETHING, but kowtowing and bowing down was the wrong reaction. It single-handedly alienated the other 86% of the US population that doesn’t identify as Black! There were ya know, a couple of sports fan’s in that other group. Kiss ’em Goodbye! You just told them their lives don’t matter.

    … any one else notice The Rock just bought XFL?
    Hmmm… think they’re going to re-re-release THAT league wrapped in American Flags and Patriotism? The Rock’s a nice guy, so I’m happy for him and his investors.

  4. Dave

    Boycott ALL sports leagues who think it’s acceptable to trash his great country!

  5. S. Kenen

    I both emailed, and left a message on the MLB public relations voice mailbox. When I watch the Mets, I want to watch a baseball game, not be lectured about something. Of course, black lives matter. That’s basic morality. The Mets losing streak is bad enough without getting a lecture on basic morality. Also, just because a group has a name you agree with (that black lives matter), doesn’t mean that the money you donate is going to that cause. BLM is involved in more than preserving black lives. It’s just like “Antifa,” a supposedly anti-fascist group that uses bullying, violent tactics on people who disagree with them. Smells like fascism to me. Let sports be sports, for God’s sake.

  6. mikey whipwreck


    BLM is openly marxist

    1. Ron Welch

      Yes, mikey, and therefore a hate group:
      “We must hate. Hatred is the basis of communism. Children must be taught to hate their parents if they are not communists.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

      As their history demonstrates, Communists promote, not only hate, but slavery, poverty and death.

      “Bolshevism committed the greatest human slaughter of all time. The fact that most of the world is ignorant and uncaring about this enormous crime is proof that the global media is in the hands of the perpetrators.”

      -Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn

  7. Mimi

    Black Lives Matter proudly states on its website that it is a Marxist organization. Sports leagues supporting this group is a deal breaker for me.

    1. S. Kenen

      If you are a baseball fan, you can email them at [email protected]. I think it’s really important that we speak up, because, unfortunately, the loudest voices get the most attention.

  8. Kevin

    I’ve stopped watching and will not attend any professional sporting events, except maybe 3-gun competitions, due to this BS!

    The ONLY reason why most of these professional athletes can get the money they get, is because of the brave men and women who have laid down their lives for this country and for the freedoms they gave us! When you disrespect the flag and the country, you desecrate their sacrifices.

    Red, White and Blue lives matter. We’re Americans, period, shut up and start acting like it!

  9. While there is a valid argument that says having been starved from sports for a long time will only make you more interested in it when it returns, is easily countered with the old adage – out of site, out of mind. Fact is, once you remove some element from your daily life, when it does return, it doesn’t seem as essential anymore. You find out that you can survive just fine without some things you thought you could not live without.

  10. Marshall

    Political speech and protest are not what entertainers are paid for. People pay to see sports, concerts, movies etc as diversions from normal everyday life. Shoving meaningless protests, that in fact disregard how the paying public/fan might view them, is simply counter intuitive to their purpose. Easy to grandstand, or kneel, harder to do the hard work to improve the situation. Each team could band together, donate 20% of those bloated salaries and create neighborhood investment funds and each player can spend 10 hours a week speaking to the kids that are most affected by bad schools, violence, single teen mom’s and broken homes.

  11. rick

    No more NFL, MLB, NBA or Noosecar! The NHL is treading thin ice. The NBA always has China. Noosecar has bubba! The NFL was almost done last year, this year will do them in. The NHL better get your act together or you are on the road to ruin. No one needs to waste their time watching these idiots.

  12. Chitown Cap

    Spot on !!! I’m done helping these whining pro sports athletes make their millions and now it looks like college sports are going to mimic these fools as well, so adios to all of you athletes, I hope the rest of the American population does the same!!! Maybe those useless college degrees can get you a job at Taco Bell when revenues start heading south and you no longer can earn those millions ?

  13. Dave

    The sports organizations that have “taken the knee” need to be hit in the wallet so that they can never get back on their feet. They refuse to stand as proud Americans, but they’ll honor any Marxist organization committed to destroying our democracy. And in case you haven’t noticed, their links to the Communist China Party are growing stronger ever day. Think that’s a coincidence?