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Are Americans Tuning Out the NFL Over Protests?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

A sizable number of Americans say they may give the National Football League a pass this year, thanks to the player protests over racial issues. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that nearly one-third (32%) of American Adults say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the growing number of Black Lives Matter protests by players on the field. Only 13% say they are more likely to watch a game because of the protests. Just over half (52%) say the protests have no impact on their viewing decisions. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

But as with most questions involving race, blacks and whites have sharply different reactions. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of blacks say they are more likely to tune into an NFL game because of the protests, compared to eight percent (8%) of whites and 16% of other minority Americans. Whites are twice as likely as blacks – 36% to 18% - to say they are less likely to watch this year, and 29% of other minorities agree. 

San Francisco back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protests in late August when he refused to stand for "The Star Spangled Banner" before a pre-season game, citing racial and police brutality issues in America as the reason. Americans were almost evenly divided at that time over whether a professional sports organization should punish an athlete who refuses to stand during the national anthem prior to a game or match.  

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on October 2-3, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of black voters view the Black Lives Matter movement favorably, a view shared by only 31% of whites and 49% of other minority voters.

Blacks strongly believe they are treated unfairly by the police, but most voters think crime in inner cities is a bigger problem than police discrimination against minorities

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of men say they are less likely to watch an NFL game because of the growing protests, while 18% say they’re more likely to watch. Among women, 35% are less likely to watch, and only eight percent (8%) are more likely to tune in. 

Those under 40 are more likely to watch NFL games because of the protests than their elders are. But just over half of adults in all age groups say the growing protests have no impact on their viewing decisions. 

The more one earns, the more likely they are to say they may be shutting off NFL games.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of all voters say they have participated in a boycott of a product or place for political reasons

Part of the problem for Blacks Lives Matter may be that only 26% think that it supports reforms to ensure all Americans are treated fairly under the lawSixty percent (60%) believe race relations have gotten worse since the election of the first black president in 2008

Just 31% of Americans think professional athletes are good role models for young children. 

Regardless of their views on Kaepernick, 70% think school children should be required to honor the U.S. flag every morning at school

In a survey four years ago of Americans’ favorite sports, football was far and away the leader. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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