Study by G&R finds Player Activism is Divisive but Domestic Violence Harms Super Bowl Viewers’ Attitudes about the NFL More

Pennington, NJ, January 24, 2019 --( Over the past few years, several negative stories involving the NFL have been reported. Among them have been widespread chronic traumatic brain injury caused by football (Brain Injuries), graphic videos showing player violence against women (Domestic Violence), player protests during the playing of the national anthem (Player Activism), and the supercharged compensation being paid to star athletes (Athletes’ Pay). The day after last year’s Super Bowl, G&R surveyed 200 viewers of the game about their thoughts about these issues. Here is what it found.

Of the four areas, Player Activism was the most divisive. More than half (57%) of Super Bowl viewers reported that their interest in the game was influenced by the activism. However, the reaction was strong in both directions. Among those affected it tilted somewhat more negative (54%), but positive reaction was also significant (46%). Importantly, too, reaction differed greatly by race. Among White viewers, 23% reported that activism increased their interest in the game, while 37% said that it decreased their interest. Among African American viewers, 57% reported that player activism increased their interest in the game, while 0% said that it decreased their interest. Reaction was also more negative among older viewers, and among those who felt the country is going in the right direction; 51% and 47%, respectively reported that their reaction caused them to have less interest in the game.

Domestic Violence was the most consequential. About half of Super Bowl viewers (47%) reported that their interest in the game had been influenced by the Domestic Violence stories with most of that influence (68%) being negative. (A surprising 32% of those affected said the influence was positive). Thirty-five percent of women (versus 30% of men), 40% of people with household incomes of $50K or more (versus 22% with less than $50K), and 44% of those with Bachelor’s degree or more (versus 25% with less than a Bachelor’s degree) said their attitudes were negatively affected.

Brain Injuries and Athlete’s Pay were less consequential to viewers. The issues were less influential (44% and 36%, respectively) and viewers were generally split about whether the influence was positive or negative (55% versus 45% and 50% versus 50%, respectively).

According to Scott Purvis, Partner at G&R, “Domestic Violence and Player Activism are both hot button issues for the NFL, but they have different dangers. Domestic Violence bothers most people overall, and more so women and especially higher income and better educated people. Player Activism is more split in its consequences with a lot of people being negative about it, but a lot of people being positive. And here the split is racial and dramatically so.”
The G&R Cooperative, LLC
Stefanie Dursin