NFL ratings are down. Why is that? Your theory is probably just as valid as ours. It could be because the game has a current lack of marketable stars. It could be due to people starting to question whether they should support a game that ruins the brains of its players just a few years after they retire. Or it could be because the quality of play has decreased due to owners and the NFLPA ratifying a CBA that has decreased practice time. There are inevitably several factors at play here, but we don't care enough to actually figure it out because, frankly, it's Roger Goodell's problem. We're not pulling in eight figures to solve it.
For his part, Donald Trump thinks he knows the answer. Speaking at an event in Greeley, Colorado, during Sunday's Broncos game no less, Trump pinned the cause of the league's ratings decline on the presidential race, which is covered as an entertainment event, as well as Colin Kaepernick taking knees during the National Anthem:
"I don’t know if you know, but the NFL is way down in their ratings. Way down," Trump said. "And you know why? Two reasons. Number one is, this politics they’re finding is a rougher game than football, and more exciting. Honestly, we’ve taken a lot of people away from the NFL. And the other reason is Kaepernick." The line drew a chorus of boos at the mere mention of the name of the 49ers' quarterback, because to some people that's inexplicably red meat.
As bonkers as Trump frequently sounds at his podium, NFL ratings did drop in 2000 during the Gore v. Bush election season, and a recent Yahoo! poll found a number of fans (29 percent) say they were watching less NFL due to Kaepernick's pregame actions. Still, you'd think that that'd be canceled out by the 27 percent of fans who said they were watching more NFL games this year, so who knows.
Monday Night Football ratings are reportedly down 24 percent from this same point last year. Following in those footsteps, Thursday night games are down 18 percent, and Sunday night games are down 19 percent.
Again, your theory is as good as ours. Guess we'll find out if politics played a role in the drop once the election mercifully ends next Tuesday.