The NFL is going to get hit in the wallet this week to what degree is anyone’s guess. ATT&T owned DirectTV is offering a one time unprecedented refund of their Sunday Ticket package to some subscribers after league wide protests.
Do you have NFL Sunday Ticket? Are you one of those fans who are fed up with the demonstrations during the National Anthem? If so, you may be able to get a refund on your 2017 NFL Sunday Ticket package.
It has been reported by CBS New, Bloomberg, and more that fans have been calling in to complain about the demonstrations and that they want out of their Sunday Ticket packages. This is an unprecedented move by the company who sells every out of market NFL game for around $280.00 per season.
Fans are upset. While most tolerated the kneeling during the anthem despite strong objections, the latest move by some NFL teams to stay in the locker room has been met with strong indignation. Teams who remained on the field for the anthem stood arm in arm, some players knelt, and other held up a single fist.
The demonstrations, it should be noted, are not in difference to the National Anthem itself but instead to the racial injustices and police profiling around the nation. Last season it began with former 49’ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during pre-season games and then kneeling. Others around the league joined in. Including some members of the Miami Dolphins.
The latest rounds of demonstrations occurred due to a Tweet by President Trump saying that owners should fire players who did not stand for the anthem. His words were a bit harsh.
Around the country fans are turning off the TV and I have been emailed by around 20 readers of this site saying they will not watch the game on Sunday as they hold their own “protest”.
The latest is another hit to the NFL who has suffered through concussion allegations, CTE studies, and domestic abuse violence.
So far the NFL, ATT&T, and DirectTV are not commenting on the exodus and according to one publication, ATT&T has said they will not release the number of cancellations.
The decision to refund the subscriptions is being met harshly with many who are saying that the television provider is “caving to Trump”
While there are those who find the refund policy change in effect disrespecting the message of the demonstrations, there are those who do not see it so clearly and are happy for the refund as they view the demonstrations as disrespectful to the Armed Services and the emergency services of this country.
It is a fine line being traversed at the moment. DirectTV could stand to lose customers over the refund policy while they also stand to lose customers by not giving the refunds. While some believe that the freedom of speech entitles players to kneel or demonstrate others are quick to point out that they too have the right to freedom of speech and expression as well.
What is clear is that this is no longer a few players kneeling in protest but the question remains what will these same players do now that the attention to their cause is front page news? As one former NFL player I spoke to told me in anonymity, “I appreciate and applaud the actions of players to bring attention to what matters to them and what is going on in society but if they expect everyone else to instill actual change without doing anything more themselves than to take a knee, then their kneeling is nothing more than an attention grab”.
That is true to some degree. Players have made their indifference known in a peaceful way on a national stage but they have to be willing to do more than simply kneel. Some players, like the Miami Dolphins Michael Thomas had taken other steps. Last season Thomas met with local police to work on those changes.
Where this goes from here is anyone’s guess but for the first time there is rumblings that the fans may begin to take actions as well. While it will never happen, every email I have received and every person I have spoken with bring up “not showing up for the start of a game”.
Perhaps the biggest issue with all of this is the fact that for many it is no longer about racial inequality or injustice or even police brutality. That was the original message that was started last season by Kaepernick. Now, some do not know what it is.
Over the weekend one player, Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva stood outside the tunnel alone as the rest of his team stood in the tunnel. Villanueva has apologized stating it was inadvertent and didn’t realize he was that far in front of his team. Villanueva served three tours in the Gulf regions. Many question why he has anything to apologize for.
This is where the tempers start to flair. There is becoming little middle ground in all of this. You are almost placed on one side, you either support the demonstrations or you do not. To some, as we have seen today on social media, not supporting the demonstrations lump you into a category of being a racist.
It is becoming evident though that this is not going to go away anytime soon. There is nothing the NFL can do or perhaps should do. Ordering the players to stand will create more problems and lose more supporters while allowing them to continue to kneel or stay inside, will lose more fans as well.
Yet no one is coming up with a workable solution that can begin the process of change.
NFL ratings are said to be down but there is no way at this point to know if those numbers are a result of the demonstrations or other factors. It will however be interesting to see what those numbers are after week four of the season.