Can The NFL Sustain Boycotts From All Sides?

The reasons people are refusing to watch football are piling up. Can the sport overcome the resistance?

Will this NFL season continue to be marred by controversies and declining viewership as we’ve seen over the last couple of years?

Many people on all sides of the political spectrum have vowed to boycott the NFL amid these controversies and the league’s handling of them.

That includes Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson, who says he is incensed by the treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players who protest police brutality toward black people by taking a knee during the national anthem at games.

Detroit Today producer Jake Neher says he won’t watch his favorite team, the Detroit Lions, this year either. He says the decision began with alleged sexual violence committed by new head coach Matt Patricia. He says it was the reaction from fans and the Lions’ organization that forced him to think deeply about his own allegiance to the team and the sport.

Detroit Today senior producer Laura Weber-Davis, a Michigan State alum, says she won’t watch the Spartans or any team anymore as the stories of bodily injury and CTE sustained in football have become too overwhelming.

David Dennis, senior culture editor at Interactive One, wrote for a piece titled “I’m Not Watching the NFL Again Until Colin Kaepernick Gets Signed” for Bossip:

Maybe it’s too late and I dropped the ball by not turning my back on the NFL before. I should probably feel ashamed of myself for continuing to support an organization that has continued to re-sign players who beat women and children. A league that has shown that greed is more important than the well-being of its players. And a league that has tried to discredit real research on concussions just to turn a buck. Maybe Kaep is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Whatever the case, this is where I draw the line. I’m not watching a single minute of NFL football until Colin Kaepernick is on a team. And even then, I’m not sure I would still support an NFL that’s so morally bankrupt. Sure the NFL probably won’t miss me. I’m just one guy. But I’ve got to stand for something. It’s what Colin Kaepernick has taught me to do.

There are also fans of the NFL who say they are boycotting the professional sport for the opposite reason Dennis articulates. Indeed, they say they won’t watch athletes who disrespect the American flag by kneeling during the anthem.

Justin Tinsley, a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated says of all the reasons to be upset with the NFL, fans angry with the kneeling protests are getting the political motives of the athletes wrong.

“[Players] are not protesting the anthem, the flag, or especially the military,” he says. “They’re protesting social justice, criminal justice reform. And when you dilute it to make it about (patriotism) it shows that…NFL owners are not willing to have the conversation that (the players) desperately want to have.” 

Have you considered boycotting football for any reason? Let us know why or why not.

To hear more from Dennis and Tinsley on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.




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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.