Is there an actual cost to virtue signaling? According to a poll conducted by YouGov and Yahoo News, the answer for Professional Sports Leagues appears to be . . . yes.
According to the poll of 1601 Americans: "Of those who watch sports on TV. . . 34.5 percent, more than one-third, said they are watching less. The vast majority, roughly 56.3 percent, said they watch about the same amount regardless of political or social messaging."
The poll also provided that a smaller group, "about 11 percent" are watching MORE sports than they did before and because of increased social justice and political messaging.
This is the first polling data I've seen on this issue, but it kind of reaffirms some of the ratings data we saw over the summer with, most notably, the 2020 NBA Finals being the lowest rated in history.
I have to admit that I am among the 34.5 percent that are watching less sports than before. I still watched sports in 2020, I am a much beleaguered Chicago Bears fan, but I watched significantly less than at ANY point of my adulthood.
This is a shame, because I used to live and die with sports and sports coverage. It was my escape. Sports were the one place where people of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds could convene, break bread and talk about how much the Cubs suck or how the New York Jets were never going to win another Super Bowl.
Now, sports are another vehicle for progressive social messaging and even modest push back on these narratives or utter the phrase "stick to sports" it will likely result in being branded one of the "ists" (rac and misogyn most notably). Being reminded of how awful we all are (especially when you don't believe it's true) has a tendency to alienate folks and I'm glad that a healthy number of people are voting with their TV remotes and watching something else:
No, not THAT. . . oh whatever, you do you.
Evidence suggests that TV ratings dips are more than just a momentary aberration - just last Tuesday, a Pelicans-Lakers game saw a 35% drop in ratings from a similarly suited NBA contest in 2019. For comparison's sake, Tucker Carlson, had 3.2 million viewers on the same night, last Tuesday. Tucker Carlson is a news program, not a live sporting event.
It will be interesting to see if the networks and their sponsors continue to ride the political messaging bandwagon, if it continues to hammer their bottom line. This is something to definitely keep an eye on in the months to come.
Happy Monday, God Bless America.