The futility of politicians who boycott sport
Earlier this year, Major League Baseball announced that it would move the All Star Game from the league to the city of Atlanta due to a controversial ballot bill passed by the state legislature. Almost immediately, dozens of enraged Republican politicians took to social media and news networks to voice their frustrations. Some have claimed they will not watch the league until this situation is rectified.
Likewise, with nearly every Super Bowl approaching since 2016, a demographic of politicians will take advantage of the event’s unparalleled publicity to make sure their Twitter followers know that because Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job. , they won’t watch.
With many sports venues requiring proof of vaccination to attend games, politicians are required to exploit this press to piss off their base. Many will boycott teams that require proof of vaccination, and others may publicly criticize teams that adopt a more relaxed COVID-19 policy.
Taken literally, these political stunts could be seen as detrimental to sports leagues. Without a deeper understanding of the sports business, these statements could be interpreted by the public as a threat to the continued success of a team or league. While all leagues and sports teams want to make and keep as many fans as possible, even a big decrease in fan engagement wouldn’t make such a big difference in a team’s results.
During the 2018-19 NFL season, it was reported that the league was making just north of $ 15 billion. Of that, only 15% came from ticket sales. Gates revenue as a percentage of total revenue continues to decline, even as NFL teams continue to raise ticket prices and continue to sell their stadiums. Even if every fan had abruptly stopped attending games in 2019 – an absolutely impossible situation – the league would still have made over $ 12 billion in revenue. A significant drop from $ 15 billion, yes, but still enough to get by.
The majority of NFL revenue comes from television deals with NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN and others. This is also true for other major American sports leagues. Year after year, the league represents more than 40 of the 50 most watched television shows. Even if the league’s audience declined by 50% – again, an impossible situation – its matches would be always to be by far the most watched thing on television. No television network is going to give up the one thing that keeps them profitable.
A politician refusing to attend events or turn off the television, regardless of his influence, will have little impact on the success of a team or league. Statements attacking teams or leagues for different policies are nothing more than political stunts to piss off the grassroots of politicians. Politicians know this, but due to their inability to say or do anything interesting or substantial in their own profession, they rely on sport to provide them with publicity and a sense of relevance.
Politicians could regulate sports leagues or take steps to hurt them financially, but that would force them to infuriate much of the country. According to Statista, 72% of the country are sports fans. Loving sports is one of the few things Americans agree on more than hating Congress – 69% of Americans disapprove of the work Congress does. While playing against a sports league or home team can give a politician a few extra talking points in a primary, it makes them even more unpopular than they already are with the American general public.
One of the few things more futile than a politician expressing personal feelings about a sports league is an American citizen trying to convince a politician. I’m aware of that, but it’s important that Americans realize how much politicians waste time on things of little importance, like sports, instead of things of great importance, like immigration, healthcare. health, an inflated defense budget and an uncontrollable fiscal situation. Politicians would be wise to focus on solving these problems.
Ethan Dursteler most recently, he worked as the government affairs and public policy coordinator for the National Football League. Prior to working with the league, he was a staff member of Representative Rob Bishop of Utah.