This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Ordinary Americans Just Want to Watch Live Games and Highlights
Consumers are unfortunately getting more and more inundated with politics in their entertainment viewing. Sports is no exception and is possibly the fiercest battleground at times.
For the better part of two years, disagreements over the National Football League kneeling controversy, and SportsCenter host Jemele Hill calling President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter, have at times dominated sports headlines.
Social justice warriors actually couldn’t care less about sports; they just view it as another platform upon which to advance their far-Left agenda.
What isn’t necessarily front-page news is the effect on the sports industry in terms of market share. Back in March, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro (who replaced the virtue-signaling John Skipper) parted ways with Jemele Hill — it was officially a contract buyout — and made a commitment to remove a liberal political agenda from network content.
Less-Politicized Sports Boosts Ratings
The self-named Worldwide Leader in Sports subsequently experienced an increase in ratings overall despite the complaints of social justice warriors and the far-Left Deadspin website. No offense meant to Deadline writer Laura Wagner’s opinion, but I don’t think she’s a big sports fan.
Liberals consider sports just another platform upon which to advance their agenda.
The NFL has still wavered about removing politics from the field, although the National Anthem protests have died down. Currently the NFL is still having issues filling its stadiums despite a modest 5% increase in ratings.
Seats sold represent perhaps the most direct line of profit for NFL teams, and several franchises are struggling. A Week 1 game in Miami between the Baltimore Ravens and the Dolphins, for example, prompted fans on social media to note the astonishing amount of empty seats at Hard Rock Stadium, also the site of the upcoming 2020 Super Bowl.
Another Wokey-Brokey Situation
The newest victim of the ill-advised leeching of politics into sports media is sports publishing giant Sports Illustrated. Earlier this year, SI indicated that it was going to feature, among other things, plus-sized and older models in its annual swimsuit issue to increase diversity and inclusivity. Feminists and Left-wing pundits hailed the magazine that for decades helped define what was sexy for this woke iteration.
This week, SI’s new owners laid off about half of its newsroom. Deadspin again was quick with commentary, blaming “click bait.” Glaringly missing from its article was any mention of sports whatsoever.
For those who could understand what is actually happening, these affects are comical. A magazine that once sold football phones and marketed a bikini magazine to 18-40 year-old males is learning that 40-year-old unmarried women with cats don’t care about sports. It remains to be seen if ownership will take the lesson to heart or push a different narrative. As it is often said, however, get woke and go broke.
The NFL Seeks a Wider Audience
To some degree, the NFL still is ignoring what its consumers. The league announced that Grammy-Award winners Jennifer Lopez and Shakira would headline the Super Bowl halftime show on February 2, 2020. The halftime festivities have long been a commercialism-focused attention grab and a way to get non-football-loving demographics interested in the game.
The decision about who will perform couldn’t be less pandering that if the league had just said to women ages 30-50 that “We will have every star from your ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 1998’ CD and free pink jerseys to everyone.”
Sports Illustrated’s woes aren’t because fans are less interested in sports. The opposite is true. It’s simply because both serious and casual fans are unenthusiastic about social engineering and progressing preaching intruding into sports. No one wants to have a serious sports conversation with SJWs.
Michael Arthur is a writer and "Veteran Nation" show host for NRN. He's an Afghanistan Veteran and Marine Corps enlisted-to-officer mustang. After leaving active duty 2015, Arthur has remained active in several veterans organizations in his local community.