Democrats have stopped following the NFL during the past four years at higher rates than Republicans, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll published Friday.
Democrats who follow the league closely fell 16 points since 2013, while Republicans dropped their base of support by 14 points, the poll noted. The pollsters also show that the NFL is hemorrhaging its fan base as the league absorbs body blows from different directions.
President Donald Trump criticized players who protested police interactions with black people during the national anthem and the league’s response. Protests began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players knelt, sat and demonstrated in different forms to call attention to social issues.
The poll, which was conducted by jointly by a Democratic and Republican pollster, also revealed that parents are growing uncomfortable with allowing their kids to play football following reports about the dangers of head injuries.
In 2014, 40 percent of mothers said they would encourage their child to play a sport other than football — that number has now swelled to 53 percent. Democrats expressed a greater concern with concussions than Republicans, the poll noted.
Meanwhile, the controversies have taken a hit on the NFL’s primary audience. Only 51 percent of men aged 18 to 49 say they follow the NFL closely, a number far below the 75 percent from four years ago.
These are damning numbers, Micah Roberts, a Republican pollster who helped conduct the poll along with veteran Democratic pollster Fred Yang, told reporters at The Wall Street Journal.
“If I’m the NFL I’m freaking out about that a little bit,” Roberts said. “They are the very core of the football-viewing audience. If they’re retreating, then who’s left?”
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