RUSH: James in Alexandria, great to have you. I’m glad you waited, sir. How you doing?
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thank you for taking my call today. As your show was beginning today I came across an article on ESPN, and I knew that you would want to hear about this ’cause it once again proves that you’re right about something. The article is about anthem protests, and there was a survey by J.D. Power, and it revealed that the number one reason why people were turning off NFL games last year was because of these protests during the National Anthem like Colin Kaepernick in this case and others. It was the reason I turned away from NFL games last year.
It absolutely infuriated me that the NFL would allow this to go on after this. We have a league that scripts every last part of its presentation down to the kind of socks the players wear, and yet they were letting this go on last year. I would watch on ESPN stuff like Pardon the Interruption, and, you know, their anchors would insist that these protests were having no effect whatsoever on dwindling NFL viewership last year. So when I came across the article, I thought it was something you’d like. I teach high school, and it really frustrates me ’cause this behavior filters down, and I have kids who won’t stand up during Pledge of Allegiance each day.
RUSH: That’s exactly right. Whether these guys want to admit it or not, they do have influence. Some of them are role models, some aren’t. But there still is the copycat influence, particularly if you acquire a lot of fame with certain behavior. That’s gonna be emulated even more so. This business here, the Kaepernick and taking a knee? It would have been okay except you know what happened at every game? The TV networks covering every game during the anthem sought those people and put them on camera and made them heroes.
It’s one thing, okay, if you have an idiot player that wants to take a knee in protest, fine. But when the cameras are gonna find the guy and announcers are gonna proclaim him heroic and brave and courageous, I guarantee you that’s gonna turn off well over half the people tuning in to watch the National Football League. That’s not why they want to watch it. They want to watch it to get away from that kind of stuff that they have to deal with every other day of the week. Sports is an escape.
It’s three to four hours of mindless twaddle and an escape from the daily rigmarole that everybody has to deal with. That’s what being a fan of a sports team is all about. There’s a lot of fantasy involved. There’s a lot of dreaming, “Gee, I wish I could do that.”
Your team — one thing about sports fandom — I had a sociologist from Harvard once tell me that the great thing about sports — and I’ve never forgotten this, folks. I was working for the Kansas City Royals, winter meetings one year in Scottsdale, Arizona. We had this Harvard sociologist, and my first reaction, “Are you kidding me? We’ve got some Ivy Leaguer coming down here trying to tell us added techniques on marketing our teams?”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I went. Well, it was mandatory. I went. And the guy said something that was actually one of those things that when he said it, “Yeah, absolutely.” Wish you could have thought of it yourself, but you didn’t. He said the beauty of sports — now, remember, all this is in the context of us who were in marketing and sales trying to expand the number of people that visit the ballpark or watch on TV and ways to exploit their fandom.
He said the unique thing about sports is it’s the one thing you can invest total passion without consequence. He said try that with a woman. There were some women there, he looked at them and said, or try that with a man. What he meant by that was, your team may lose, and they may disappoint you, but your team will never try to take half of what you’ve got. Your team will never divorce you. Your team will never reject you. Your team, unless you throw beer on a player, they’ll never kick you out of the place.
But with interpersonal relationships, everybody, the first time they experience heartbreak or hurt, they’re reserved after that, they don’t want that to happen again, and so they do not invest their passion totally because there’s consequence. This is the definition of uber-fandom: invest total passion without consequence.
Well, Colin Kaepernick taking a knee and a bunch of others protesting the United States of America as an oppressive state and then the TV networks broadcasting the game zeroing in on that behavior and heralding it and promoting it, there’s no doubt it’s gonna disgust people. There’s no doubt it’s gonna result in fewer people watching. I don’t know if it’s enough to affect ratings, but the ratings in the NFL were down last year significantly. And they didn’t come back, to the point that advertising rates, the league actually had to refund or offer make-good commercials at no charge later in the year because the price they were charged, they didn’t reach the audience they were promised, which is a staple in advertising. If the differential is great, then the network has to make it good somehow, either refund the money or give ’em free spots that make up the lost audience.
And this year it’s a crapshoot, nobody knows what’s gonna happen. Last year the excuse was the election. Trump and the election. That never made sense to me. Trump and the election? “Yeah, they’re watching Fox News every afternoon on Sunday.” Oh, come on, give me a break. That’s not why. And I don’t think it was exclusively Kaepernick. I think there’s all kinds of factors. This attack on the game by the uber-left as something barbaric and dangerous. They’re taking the fun out of it! They’re turning it into a Mad Max and the Thunderdome kind of thing.
They’re doing all kinds of damage. They’re chipping away at the ingredients why people want to invest their passion in it. And it’s not just football. But football is the target of the leftist agitators who are of course trying to wipe out things in society that offends them and they don’t like.
I’m telling you the socialist from Harvard was right on the money. Once you eliminate the characteristic, the desire, the willingness to invest your passion without consequence, then that’s a game-changer in the world of sports.
RUSH: After our caller James in Alexandria, I found the article that he’s talking about. It’s actually on the ESPN website, it’s a J.D. Power survey. Twenty-six percent, a quarter of the potential audience say it was national anthem protests which caused them to watch less NFL, 25% said that was the reason. And James was right, all of these anchors and analysts at ESPN, “No way.” Everyone was pooh-poohing that, ’cause they knew it was. They knew it was.
See, every liberal group wants to think that the audience is fellow liberals. The NFL protests? All these people protesting the NFL, all these people suing it, CTE stuff, too barbaric, they all think everybody agrees with ’em. They all think everybody watching is also liberal and horrified by it. They don’t understand that they’re not the majority, and they’re not typical. That’s the whole point. They are not typical and yet they exercise all this control over everything. But I’m telling you, in addition to the protests, it was because TV highlighted ’em and then praised them.
Kaepernick was courageous, Kaepernick was brave, Kaepernick had guts, taking on this big time institute, taking on his own country for the sake of making it be blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I guarantee you, your average, ordinary, patriotic American who doesn’t see America as a problem in the first place is gonna look at that and go “yuk” and turn it off. They don’t want to be hit in the face with that every damn time they turn on a game. That’s not why they’re watching it. But the left thinks that the game attracts parishioners to the liberal religion. They don’t want to be serviced with all this tripe.