Jim Irsay on national anthem protests: ‘It hasn’t been a positive thing’
NFL television ratings are down across the league this year, and there have been a number of theories as to why. Some have wondered if national anthem protests by Colin Kaepernick and others have possibly resulted in less viewers tuning in. While that seems unlikely, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay sees the demonstrations as an issue.
If nothing else, Irsay does not feel it is appropriate for players to be protesting when they should be entertaining.
“I think it’s the wrong venue,” he told Jarret Bell of USA TODAY Sports. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”
Irsay is not the only one who has made that argument, no matter how unpopular it is. Many have pointed to freedom of speech and expression, which is certainly an incredibly important right in our country. However, NFL players are employees of a private company working on private property. Those who protest and preach are technically not doing so in a public forum.
Houston Texans owner Robert McNair agrees with Irsay and believes people watch NFL games to escape from everyday politics and drama.
“People come to the game because they want to get away from what’s happening in their everyday lives,” McNair said. “When you bring those types of things into the scene, yeah, it will turn some people off. But the main thing we try to do is to say, ‘We recognize your concern. Let’s do something about it.'”
The ratings dip is obviously a concern for the NFL, and it’s hard to imagine a few players taking a knee or raising a fist in the air has anything to do with it. The theory ESPN’s Sean McDonough gave while live on the air Monday (video here) is a much better one.