Wednesday, October 26, 2016
One would have thought that San Francisco finally deciding to play Colin Kaepernick might have drawn more viewers, if for no other reason than to see him get pounded by nasty defensive linemen. However, NFL viewer ratings continue to tumble and much of the blame is placed on players protesting the national anthem.
Protests have spread far beyond the NFL with even youth league players taking a knee on the national anthem. It got very nasty in Beaumont, Texas, where a coach was fired for allegedly making his players take a knee. The team was ultimately disbanded.
For many Americans, the national anthem is a vital part of athletic events, a confirmation of our allegiance to the nation before engaging in a ritualistic bloodbath. Fans are highly partisan and no invective is too harsh when browbeating opponents. Yet, we are all supposed to pause for a moment to honor those who actually gave their lives for the flag.
I don't think Kaepernick had any idea what he unleashed back in the preseason. Other players have since joined him throughout the league, resulting in a chorus of catcalls from the stands. Kaepernick was loudly booed when he took the field against Buffalo in his first appearance with the 49ers. He even drew the attention of the Notorious RBG, only for her to retract her comments when he called her on them.
The main reason for the ratings shortfall is that the quality of play has plummeted. Seattle and Arizona, considered two of the league's best teams, played to a 6-6 tie in arguably the worst game of the season. Both kickers missed short field goals in overtime that should have won the game for their teams. Injuries are part of the problem. Many teams have their star players sidelined or playing at less than 100 per cent. The NFL also finds itself competing with the Major League Baseball playoffs. Cleveland scored as many points in the much anticipated first game of the World Series as did Seattle and Arizona.
The election is also hogging up a lot of media attention. Trump is a force majeure as far as television ratings are concerned. The first debate between Trump and Hillary drew a far larger viewing audience than Monday Night Football. Much more talk is devoted to the scandals swirling around the presidential candidates than to the blown calls and poor coaching decisions being made on a regular basis. For once, no one seems to really care what's going on in football, other than who will take the knee this week when the national anthem is played. Even that no longer seems to be much of an issue.
As far as sports go, there is far more interest being expressed in the unlikely match-up of the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians in the World Series. Cleveland hasn't won a World Series since 1948. the Cub's drought extends all the way back to 1908 when Teddy Roosevelt was President. Hollywood celebrities and even presidential candidates are weighing in on the series, with Hillary saying she is a lifelong Cubs' fan. Not surprisingly, Republicans weren't going to let her get away with that claim. Will a House investigation follow if she is elected?
I imagine that once the World Series and General Election are over, viewers will go back to watching football. Hopefully, the second half of the season will be more entertaining than the first half. I paid $200 for my NFL Game Pass, and so far have had little to cheer about.