Prior to the President Trump Rally in Alabama for Senator Luther Strange; there was barely more than a dozen NFL players, protesting what they believe to be the racial injustice of the United States of America; by kneeling or coupling arms at games; while the Star Spangled Banner was played.
Colin Kaepernick who infamously initiated the kneeling at the anthem, didn’t get a job at any of the 32 NFL teams prior to Trump’s speech. He promised in fact, to cease his protest and vowed he would stand if given another chance to play quarterback. Still, he wasn’t offered a job. Not a single one of the 32 owners wanted to risk the potential P.R. nightmare, of hiring the man who knelt for a year during the playing of their National Anthem. Not a single one felt sufficiently aligned with or sympathetic enough to Kaepernick’s cause, to risk bringing him back into the fold.
Then Trump gave his speech in Alabama on Friday; and what was a protest initially carried out by one, then numbered in the dozens more than a year later, all of a sudden was carried out by over two hundred players and coaching staff, three days later.
The flash point seemed to be his referencing the protesting players as “sons of bitches.” Almost immediately the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, who had hitherto shown zero support for Kaepernick’s “cause”, like the rest of the owners and an overwhelming majority of the players, all of a sudden was up in arms over what President Trump had said.
The fuse was lit. And what the NFL owners previously thought was untouchable, all of a sudden wasn’t. Or so they thought. This speech from President Trump became the perfect opportunity to safely join “the cause”. Surely none of the fans would mind a large number of NFL players and staff, protesting the anthem; not in the light of what the President had just said. Surely they did not agree with his “racist” sentiment about the “black” players, right?
Wrong. As polls have shown in the aftermath of this manufactured drama, over 60% of the American public agreed with Mr. Trump’s sentiments. Not that the NFL needed the polls to figure that out, since they were immediately booed by nearly 100% of the fans at various arenas.
It’s rather ironic, that the NFL, an organisation that has been unapologetically ‘all about the money’, has made such a serious miscalculation for the sake of “a cause”.
The NFL is barely watched around the world, yet it’s far more valuable than what’s by far the most popular and watched sports league in the world, the Barclays Premier League. It’s a demonstration of just how far ahead of the curve the NFL has been and continues to be, when it comes to marketing and protecting the economic viability of its brand.
Almost everyone who watches the NFL, has to pay exorbitant amounts to either go to the arenas to watch the games, or to pay cable networks to watch the games; who in turn pay the NFL, huge amounts of money to cover it.
The biggest cash cow for the NFL, as with many other like organizations, is the Advertiser. If ratings continue to drop, the advertisers will pull out and eventually the networks will as well. Then we’ll see just how “woke” the owners, staff and players truly are.