So much for that BoycottNFL from Trump and his loyalists.
Within nanoseconds after Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the National Anthem in protest, conservatives launched a boycott of the NFL. They claim that their boycottNFL is working. Trump even joined the chorus of Kaepernick critics. So why is he showing pro-Trump ads during NFL games, and why are supporters watching, if they claim to boycott watching professional football?
Kaepernick began kneeling when the Star-Spangled Banner played before games, as a protest of police shootings. I wrote a critique of his actions, disagreeing with his protest, but expressing his right to protest. As you might guess, I've received plenty of angry emails on the subject, with conservatives strongly disagreeing with that right of Kaepernick to protest the game.
Trump supporters have claimed they are responsible for lower NFL ratings with their boycott. Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing a number of TV viewers have switched off NFL games because of the protest. Conservatives have ripped the NFL for not suspending Kaepernick, or fining him.
As conservative John Hawkins with TownHall.com writes in his column calling for an NFL boycott:
"A lot of conservative men like to relax by watching sports. Sports is a place where politics shouldn't even be on the agenda....but IT IS. Now, watching a football game requires you to put up with spoiled, pampered, privileged, obscenely wealthy man-children disrespecting America during the national anthem. As if that isn't bad enough, you turn on ESPN or somewhere else discussing sports and what do you hear? Liberals talking about how great it is that these football players are crapping all over the country that made them rich and famous."
Trump even shouted out his support to those boycotting the NFL over Kaepernick, according to Sports World News. He slammed Kaepernick's kneeling, saying:
"I think it's personally not a good thing," Trump said ... "I think it's a terrible thing. Maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won't happen."
Imagine my surprise as my kids and I watched the Carolina Panthers-Arizona Cardinals game to see not one, not two, but at least three Donald Trump ads during the game. They persisted into other NFL games. Guess Trump didn't get the memo about the "BoycottNFL" movement.
Evidently, Trump sympathizers aren't following the boycott either. Otherwise, why would these Trump loyalists and even somewhat sympathetic fence-sitters be watching these games in the league where Kaepernick plays?
In reality, the NFL brand and player brands are fine. NFL attendance is up, not only over last year, but also over September figures. Any decrease in viewership is more likely explained by people cutting the cord and livestreaming the games.
I asked a critic who previous emailed me his support for the NFL boycott what he thought of Trump running ads during the Carolina-Arizona game, and he replied with his enthusiastic support for the campaign commercials running during a pro football game, not realizing the irony. The BoycottNFL isn't working, and even Trump and his supporters are conceding that fact with their ad blitz during pro football games.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at email@example.com.