While football season ramps up, reminding us that fall is here and adorable Super Bowl Budweiser commercials are just around the corner, team loyalty is already being tested. In the wake of the president’s comments toward professional athletes kneeling during the anthem, social media and the press have been drowning in differing opinions. We ran a nationwide survey to investigate how Americans really feel about the controversy; the answers may surprise you.

Almost a third of Americans consider themselves huge football fans, a number that is joined by 31% of the population that reports occasionally watching football (ahem, bandwagoners). Though generally stereotyped for wearing cheese hats or green body paint, this swath of fans is diverse. 45% of this demographic are female, 77% are Caucasian, 32% are between 18-34 years old, and 34% earn under $35,000.

Across the board, most Americans (77%) do not believe a football field is an appropriate place for political protest. At the same time, huge football fans are much more likely to report the football field as an appropriate place to protest, at 32% compared to 16% of Americans who do not watch football.

When asked directly if they approved or disapproved of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem, huge football fans were more likely to approve and those who do not follow football generally had no opinion on the issue.

Do you approve or disapprove of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem? Total US Huge football fan Watch football sometimes Don’t follow football
Approve 28% 38% 29% 20%
Disapprove 44% 41% 47% 44%
No opinion 28% 20% 25% 37%

Football fans are also more likely to support the Black Lives Matter movement, with 46% reporting that they approve of it, compared to only 23% for those who do not follow football. When we asked Americans specifically about Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment, 43% of huge football fans feel that he is being treated unfairly, and 54% of non-football fans don’t know anything about his situation. Some quick stats on Kaepernick: he has had 72 career touchdowns, 12,271 passing yards, and is rated 88.9. For those who don’t follow football, that’s impressive athleticism.

Football Protests Tweets

Football Protests Tweets

We asked Americans about their feelings on President Trump’s comments suggesting that NFL players who kneel in protest should be fired and, though Americans may not like protests on the field, more disagreed with Trump’s rhetoric on the matter than agreed.  This was especially true for huge football fans, 62% of whom disagree with Trump.

How do you feel about President Trump’s comments suggesting that NFL players who kneel in protest of the national anthem should be fired Total US Huge football fan Watch football sometimes Don’t follow football
I agree with Trump 30% 26% 31% 33%
I disagree with Trump 46% 62% 47% 35%
I don’t know much about the matter 23% 13% 23% 32%

Interestingly, almost half of huge football fans (47%) and Americans who sometimes watch football (40%) agree that President Trump is trying to divert attention from other, more important issues by stirring up controversy and divisiveness. These comments and tweets come amidst turmoil with North Korea, devastation in Puerto Rico from the latest hurricane, a controversial health care bill, and the discovery of a private email used by Jared Kushner.

Methodology:

Fluent is a data-driven performance marketing company. The “2017 NFL Survey” was conducted online within the United States by Fluent, LLC on September 25, 2017, among 1,666 adults (aged 18 and up for both waves). Due to rounding, percentages may not always add up to 100%. Fluent’s proprietary ad serving technology includes a real-time survey module that was used to facilitate the data collection for this study. Respondents were randomly selected and data were weighted to US Census 2010 population distribution. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml