Over the last several years, the NFL has dealt with its share of problems, from concussions to domestic violence to trying to define what a catch really is.
But this year, the NFL’s biggest problem is that people just plain aren’t watching, and if they are watching, it’s not for very long. It’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason why this is happening, and since the problem became apparent, many have put forward ideas as to why. At the surface level, some say this year’s presidential election may be one of the leading culprits, as two of the presidential debates fell on the same night as primetime NFL games and likely divided viewership. Others, like this poll, point to the on-field protests of the national anthem that San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick started and that have spread among other players and teams within the league.
Over the last month, the NFL has also had to compete with Major League Baseball’s postseason, and with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians both trying to end decades-long championship droughts, it’s not crazy to think that fans might be more interested in playoff baseball than regular season football. And still others point to the ho-hum primetime matchups to which fans have been subjected. Last night’s Thursday Night Football game featured the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars against a lackluster Tennessee Titans team in a game where little to no defense was played. Furthermore, marquee players like Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton who are perennial stars have struggled on the field. But beneath the surface, there are other factors at play. The NFL’s zero-tolerance policy for celebrations and its ongoing struggles with domestic violence are a couple of other reasons that some point to for the slump.
So why aren’t people watching football this year? Larry and Take Two host/KPCC sports guru A Martinez share their ideas.