One flaw that some writers (and readers) fall prey to is giving more credence to the opinions of others than the merits justify. And when those opinions get restated in enough outlets? Well then obviously (insert sarcasm) they are facts. Further “facts” that align with our own opinions are more readily accepted and less likely to be fact checked.
New York Daily News columnist, Shaun King’s, article dated November 22nd, “Now that Donald Trump won the presidency, it appears white folk are finally watching the NFL again”, includes enough information to present his case. A case that irresponsibly concludes the main reason behind the fall and rise of NFL ratings has to do racism.
There are enough legitimate issues, race and otherwise that are challenging to overcome, we don’t need specious arguments to inflame them. They muddy the waters and make progress more challenging. We don’t need writers who we depend on to inform us, educate us, highlight areas of need, and progress, to derail us.
Let me get specific. Mr. King’s main point is that for most of the NFL season, ratings for watching NFL games has been way down. He states the reasons for the ratings drop as reported elsewhere are:
- Cord cutting
- Too many games on now (Thursday night football)
- Over-saturation of fantasy football
- The games haven’t been very good
- The protest started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. (His kneeling before the national anthem)
Actually Mr. King hypothesizes that Kaepernick’s protest was the main reason for the ratings drop.
As evidence, Mr. King stated in a November 1st article there is a “definitive” study/poll that says that 56% of the people surveyed believed the anthem deal was the main reason ratings are down.
Mr. King states: “Several studies also backed Donald Trump up and said that the top reason some fans weren’t watching was because of the protests of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by black players.”
So, when Mr. King refers to studies, I clicked on the link he provides and it takes you to an ESPN article that contains information on one study, not studieS.
As stated the 56% refers to people’s opinions. This would be laughable (if it wasn’t divisive) because it is 56% of people’s opinions, not on what they are doing but on what they think others are doing. The latter, as recently proven in the presidential election, is not always accurate, how can you use the former as definitive evidence?
And while there is a valid point to be made that Trump was trying to appeal to a specific voting segment by blaming the Kaepernick protest, that doesn’t make Trump right. It’s not like the President-elect was prone to making controversial, offensive statements while campaigning that had no factual basis right?
Further, the one poll referenced in the ESPN article was taken at Seton Hall. How many people were polled? (841) What was the age, gender, race and ethnic breakdown of this one alleged definitive opinion poll? (Merriam-Webster defines definitive as: authoritative and apparently exhaustive. Does one poll asking people the opinion of other people seem exhaustive?)
With the recent increase in NFL ratings, Mr. King concludes: “Every reason that people gave for the ratings being down still exists, except as soon as Donald Trump won, and white folk were given a testosterone boost to their whiteness, ratings magically went back up.”
Race baiting language aside, I would imagine that the “white folk” that voted for Trump, (of which I am not one) as well as the black folk, Latino folk, Cuban folk, women, and young people who voted for Trump, are all feeling good about themselves, at least as it pertains to the election. That’s what happens when your candidate wins.
Just like I am sure all the white folk et al that voted for President Barack Obama… Twice… felt good when he won.
Above, I list seven reasons that Mr. King cited as reasons for the ratings drop. An eighth reason, which I believe he intentionally left out of the 11/22 piece, was the presidential election itself and the huge boost in ratings cable news received for its coverage of it.
Why do I say intentionally? Because Mr. King mentions it in the inflammatory column he wrote on November 1st, entitled “KING: NFL ratings are down because racists despise black men who are truly free”. Nice. Has anyone ever told this guy about not yelling fire in a crowded movie theater?
Anyway, in this article Mr. King mentions the Seton Hall study and how the 56% statistic being cited as the main reason for NFL ratings being down, and how that is listed as an even greater reason then the presidential election cable news coverage. (FYI, 50% of the people in the same poll cited cable news coverage as a reason for the ratings drop, but this stat is left out of Mr. King’s article.)
Now, neither Mr. King, nor I, can say for sure how many people tuned out of NFL games due to the Kaepernick protest, or the election coverage, (or for any other reason) but I can share the following information regarding cable ratings during the election that may or may not affect your opinion:
- From Variety, “Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC — have seen their total day ratings skyrocket (due to the elections) 73% from last year.
- From Salon.com, If the American public is as tired of coverage, as they profess to pollsters, this certainly isn’t reflected in cable news networks’ratings as the country barrels toward Election Day. In fact, this could wind up being a record year for cable news.
- From the L.A. Times, “Through the first six weeks of the football season, Sunday viewing of cable news channels CNN, MSNBC and Fox News is up 79% compared with 2015 in the 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. hours when NFL games air.”
November ratings for cable news have yet to come out but here are a couple of quotes/ headlines forecasting the expectations:
- From Chicago Tribune: CNN and Fox make plans to cushion painful ratings decline after blockbuster election.
- From Fortune: With the election over, the expectation is that cable news networks’ days of record ratings are also over, at least until the next big election.
Okay, so lets review:
- We have the NFL experiencing low ratings at a time when cable news has record high ratings due to coverage of a specific event, the presidential election.
- All major networks, liberal and conservative, experienced a ratings spike.
- We can assume it is not just conservative white folk who were following the election coverage.
- When this event (the presidential election) and the coverage of it ends, we see an increase in NFL ratings and a significant decrease in cable ratings is expected…. Hmmm.
From this, the logical conclusion to Mr. King (and his wife) is that white folk are happy Trump won and that racists whites don’t like seeing free black men? Well the status of black men as a whole in the NFL has not changed since the election so that eliminates one reason.
And I’m going to lean towards the election coverage being over as the biggest factor. I believe that the NFL ratings would have bounced back to at or near the same level had Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson won the election.
All of the other reasons cited above, including the Kaepernick protest, and others not previously mentioned here, such as Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman pointing to the NFL rules are eliminating the fun of the game, the Red Zone channel, where viewers can cut from game to game to see potential scoring action, may also contribute to the ratings decline. To what end? Neither you, Mr. King, nor I can be sure but I see them as secondary to the election coverage being over.
I just don’t see how Mr. King can presume, definitively and with such assurance, that racism is the main reason. Of course it’s possible racism is the primary reason, but the TV data and historical viewing trends (cable news rating historically getting a boost during election cycles) suggest it is not. The fact that Mr. King completely steers clear of an analysis of election coverage ratings/ data, if only to refute it, suggests he is blinded by bias or intent.
Mr. King doesn’t come close to reaching the civil court burden of proof, let alone beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m not suggesting don’t bring it up. Our shameful racial history justifies that. I am suggesting don’t take it to DEFCON 1 level unless you’re more reasonably sure.
In concluding, Mr. King states “If you are reading this and refuse to believe the role race and culture are playing in the everyday decisions millions of people make, then you are blind to the country we are living in.”
Here I sadly agree. Yes in a country of 318 million people there are millions of people who make race based decisions. Just because this statement is true in the general sense does not mean it applies to NFL ratings. Nor does it justify race baiting language that makes it harder for races to come together.
He ends the article by stating, “White fans are boosting the NFL’s ratings because they were throwing a fit over protests. Now that Trump has won, their egos can handle it.”
It is never good when you begin a critical statement by generalizing and stereotyping an entire group of people. Is it wrong to say Black fans are… Mexican fans are… Jewish fans are… White fans are… Yes, it is wrong to all of the above.
I’ve used the term race baiting a few times. Here is a working definition. From the Urban Dictionary: Race baiting definition – One who insinuates that racism or bigotry is a dominant factor with regards to an event that either does not involve race or in which diverse cultures are involved are simply a minor element.
Here is an example of race baiting from the Urban Dictionary:
Race baiter (insinuating race): A person of color was abused by a white at school today, just another day in the U.S. of K.K.K.A.
I would suggest that racist whites and blacks, who profit off of division want to look for or create division and racism where it doesn’t exist. Or if it exists, but not anywhere close to the magnitude they suggest, race-baitors will exaggerate it to profit off division and hate in some way, (career, status, or ego.) They seek it at the expense of other possibilities because that is their brand.
In some cases race baiters may be well intended and operate under a means justify the ends thinking. However, when invoking racism inappropriately… race baiting can hurt everyone, and slow progress for all people, even those the author may sincerely want to help. And that is an ironic shame.
This too is America 2016.