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The NFL is in trouble. For the first time in years, the NFL is battling bad television ratings, according to recent polls conducted by Seton Hall.

Ever since players have been kneeling during the anthem, viewers have sent a powerful message to the NFL and their players. More and more fans refuse to watch.

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The poll was conducted October 24-26 and surveyed 841 adults across the U.S. They asked each participant to identify seven different factors as a reason for the decline in ratings.

The poll revealed a 12% decrease in viewership overall. Nearly 56% of football fans admitted that the players kneeling during the anthem were the reason they are not watching the games. There are other factors contributing to the drop in ratings as well.

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The way the NFL has been handling players that are charged with domestic violence was another contributing factor that has been plaguing the league.

Rick Gentile, director of the poll, said, “It is somewhat remarkable that the impact of the national anthem protest seems to hold, given that the action occurs pregame and isn’t even televised.”
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Protesting has been a hot button issue since San Fransico quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, started the “movement” that he says is his way of showing solidarity with minorities being oppressed and police brutality in America.

For each factor polled, respondents were allowed to answer “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.” The largest number of “yes” answers were given for the question asking about the National Anthem. 47 percent cited the handling of cases involving abusive players as another negative towards the organization.

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50 percent of those polled also revealed that the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were a factor in the decreased viewing of the games.

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Another 33% of those polled said a declining quality of play on the field was also a factor, citing changes due to player safety and head injuries.

The NFL was once a prized piece of television programming, but it seems the NFL is finding out that even they are not invincible to public opinion. League executives have been searching for answers to the dwindling numbers and lack of attendance at the games, it seems they know the answer now.

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When you let your players run amuck in the streets and disrespect the flag and the country’s soil they’re playing on, you’re going to see a negative correlation. If you hold players accountable for their actions instead of treating them as “holier than thou,” perhaps you can salvage your bad ratings and negative public view before it’s too late.