I never understood why pro sports leagues thought that buying into a far-left, anti-American narrative would ingratiate them with their fans. At the moment, it looks like my skepticism (shared by many, of course) was justified. Breitbart reports: “Ratings crash for NBA, MLB after protest-filled debuts.”
As the NBA and MLB return from their coronavirus-imposed hiatus, it appears TV viewers are not interested in what the increasingly woke leagues have to offer.
With both baseball and basketball draped in all sorts of Black Lives Matter and social justice symbolism for their opening games, a substantially smaller number of fans tuned-in to the rest of the week’s games.
Why would anyone think that America’s sports fans yearn for far-left “social justice” messages as part of their sports programming?
According to Outkick.com, neither league did well.
As for the opening games, Outkick reported that the return of the NBA on TNT saw the following numbers:
Lakers-Clippers: 3.4 million
Pelicans-Jazz: 2.1 million
ESPN’s MLB return numbers were also underwhelming:
Yankees-Nationals: 4.0 million
Dodgers-Giants: 2.8 million
This is via Twitter:
MLB really fell off after opening day. In general, both leagues aren’t getting the audience one might expect from a nation that’s been deprived of entertainment for months https://t.co/GazeoR9SNB
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) August 2, 2020
Anecdotally, I am seeing a lot of long-term sports fans abandoning their once-favorite leagues and teams. I am a huge baseball fan and have cheered for the Minnesota Twins through good times and bad, but when I learned that they were kneeling and that Target Field has painted a huge “Black Lives Matter” sign down the third base line, I checked out. I will not follow or root for a team whose players kneel. Period. And I am one of many millions.
The major pro sports leagues apparently think that the rest of us can’t get along without them. That seems like a dubious proposition. We lasted through July; why can’t we go through the rest of the year without a left-wing political fix? I suspect that the pro sports leagues will be surprised at how easily millions of former fans can move on.
PAUL ADDS: I refuse to watch the NBA. However, I can now watch baseball without being assaulted by political content. Opening day games aside, I haven’t noticed any political content in the broadcasts I’ve watched.
Some might nonetheless want to punish MLB for indulging BLM even for one game. But if the goal is simply to enjoy a game without political reminders — which is the case with me — it’s safe to watch baseball again.