The NFL’s loss of viewers and popularity, in large part due to anthem protests, has provoked a wide-range of reaction across the political world. For the RNC Chairwoman, the latest reports of plummeting NFL ratings provoked a tweet of sarcastic shock.
On Saturday morning, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel captioned a tweet from Deadline, referencing the NFL’s drop in viewership for Week 6’s edition of Thursday Night Football.
Ratings for unpatriotic NFL declining? Shocked.https://t.co/OSLPQCykmN
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 14, 2017
Now, considering that most people who have stopped watching the NFL list the anthem protests as the their primary reason for no longer following the league, McDaniel’s reaction doesn’t seem all that unfair.
However, that’s not how CNN’s Jake Tapper saw it. Tapper responded to McDaniel, saying:
Wherein the chair of the RNC labels an entire American sports league “unpatriotic” — https://t.co/MFNgNeqVl8
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 15, 2017
While it’s certainly not fair to call every individual in the NFL unpatriotic, and it’s not clear that’s what McDaniel meant to do, people can mean different things when they say, “NFL.” There’s the Jake Tapper interpretation, which I would disagree with, which states that when you say “NFL,” you mean every player, coach, executive, and owner in the league.
Then there’s, what I believe, the Ronna McDaniel interpretation of “NFL” to be, which is that the league’s front-office has essentially rubber-stamped these anthem protests. Not just in the sense that they’ve allowed the protests to continue, but moreover, in the sense that once the battle was joined. Especially once President Trump called the players out in Alabama, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded by attacking Trump.
Whether Goodell believes in everything the players kneel for or not, the effect of his response to Trump, was to defend players behaving in unpatriotic ways, while harshly criticizing the president. A move further complicated by the fact that most people agree with what Trump said in Alabama, even if they don’t like the way he said it, or don’t think he should have been the one saying it.
Only now, after weeks of damning public opinion polls, and declining ratings, has the NFL decided to call a meeting to review anthem policy. They didn’t call the meeting because they were offended that players were using the national stage the league gave them to disgrace the country. No, they only called the meeting after they started losing money. Yet another instance where the league, as defined by the its leadership, did not act with patriotism as its foremost concern.
Perhaps McDaniel really did mean every person employed by the NFL when she called the league “unpatriotic.” In that case, I would disagree with her. Though, I don’t think that’s likely. Far more likely, is that she meant to call a league that allowed itself to be used as a prop for radical, leftist politics, unpatriotic.
In that case, she’s right on.