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New poll finds black voters believe NFL colluded to blackball Kaepernick

Survey in eight states says some are also watching less football because of quarterback’s treatment

1:28 PMA new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.

And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.

The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.

“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.

NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.

President Donald Trump added to their worries with a series of tweets in which he linked declining NFL television ratings to the protests and by conflating the protests with disrespect for the flag. In a speech in September, he also profanely called on NFL owners to cut any players who protest during the anthem.

At the same time, many African-Americans are angered by the treatment of Kaepernick, who has been unable to land a job with an NFL team for more than a year. The new poll tracks with others that found many African-Americans believe Kaepernick is being punished for launching the player protests in 2016, when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

“There is a counternarrative to the narrative that the NFL is losing fans because of the protests,” said Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners, the research firm that conducted the poll. “That is that the NFL is losing fans because of collusion and racial injustice.”

Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly blackballing him because of his political protest.

Although football remains entrenched as the nation’s most popular sport, television ratings for NFL games fell nearly 10 percent in the 2017 regular season. Viewership for the 2018 Super Bowl was also down, falling to 2009 levels.

The reasons for the decline have been hotly disputed. People have cited growing concern over concussions and off-field problems such as domestic violence. They also point to cord-cutting and the rise of social media, which allows people to follow games without actually tuning in. They also have pointed to the player protests and the racially divided reaction to them.

The BlackPac poll found that 59 percent of black registered voters in the swing states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina agree that NFL teams colluded to block Kaepernick from joining a team. One in four disagreed, while 17 percent either did not know or refused to speculate.

The survey also found that 21 percent of respondents said they watched less football in 2017 than they had previously, while 14 percent said they stopped watching altogether. Some 47 percent said their viewing habits were unchanged, while 19 percent either refused to answer or said they did not know.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states in the survey.

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1:28 PMA new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.

And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.

The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.

“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.

NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.

President Donald Trump added to their worries with a series of tweets in which he linked declining NFL television ratings to the protests and by conflating the protests with disrespect for the flag. In a speech in September, he also profanely called on NFL owners to cut any players who protest during the anthem.

At the same time, many African-Americans are angered by the treatment of Kaepernick, who has been unable to land a job with an NFL team for more than a year. The new poll tracks with others that found many African-Americans believe Kaepernick is being punished for launching the player protests in 2016, when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

“There is a counternarrative to the narrative that the NFL is losing fans because of the protests,” said Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners, the research firm that conducted the poll. “That is that the NFL is losing fans because of collusion and racial injustice.”

Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly blackballing him because of his political protest.

Although football remains entrenched as the nation’s most popular sport, television ratings for NFL games fell nearly 10 percent in the 2017 regular season. Viewership for the 2018 Super Bowl was also down, falling to 2009 levels.

The reasons for the decline have been hotly disputed. People have cited growing concern over concussions and off-field problems such as domestic violence. They also point to cord-cutting and the rise of social media, which allows people to follow games without actually tuning in. They also have pointed to the player protests and the racially divided reaction to them.

The BlackPac poll found that 59 percent of black registered voters in the swing states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina agree that NFL teams colluded to block Kaepernick from joining a team. One in four disagreed, while 17 percent either did not know or refused to speculate.

The survey also found that 21 percent of respondents said they watched less football in 2017 than they had previously, while 14 percent said they stopped watching altogether. Some 47 percent said their viewing habits were unchanged, while 19 percent either refused to answer or said they did not know.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states in the survey.

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1:28 PMA new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.

And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.

The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.

“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.

NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.

President Donald Trump added to their worries with a series of tweets in which he linked declining NFL television ratings to the protests and by conflating the protests with disrespect for the flag. In a speech in September, he also profanely called on NFL owners to cut any players who protest during the anthem.

At the same time, many African-Americans are angered by the treatment of Kaepernick, who has been unable to land a job with an NFL team for more than a year. The new poll tracks with others that found many African-Americans believe Kaepernick is being punished for launching the player protests in 2016, when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

“There is a counternarrative to the narrative that the NFL is losing fans because of the protests,” said Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners, the research firm that conducted the poll. “That is that the NFL is losing fans because of collusion and racial injustice.”

Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly blackballing him because of his political protest.

Although football remains entrenched as the nation’s most popular sport, television ratings for NFL games fell nearly 10 percent in the 2017 regular season. Viewership for the 2018 Super Bowl was also down, falling to 2009 levels.

The reasons for the decline have been hotly disputed. People have cited growing concern over concussions and off-field problems such as domestic violence. They also point to cord-cutting and the rise of social media, which allows people to follow games without actually tuning in. They also have pointed to the player protests and the racially divided reaction to them.

The BlackPac poll found that 59 percent of black registered voters in the swing states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina agree that NFL teams colluded to block Kaepernick from joining a team. One in four disagreed, while 17 percent either did not know or refused to speculate.

The survey also found that 21 percent of respondents said they watched less football in 2017 than they had previously, while 14 percent said they stopped watching altogether. Some 47 percent said their viewing habits were unchanged, while 19 percent either refused to answer or said they did not know.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states in the survey.

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1:28 PMA new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.

And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.

The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.

“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.

NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.

President Donald Trump added to their worries with a series of tweets in which he linked declining NFL television ratings to the protests and by conflating the protests with disrespect for the flag. In a speech in September, he also profanely called on NFL owners to cut any players who protest during the anthem.

At the same time, many African-Americans are angered by the treatment of Kaepernick, who has been unable to land a job with an NFL team for more than a year. The new poll tracks with others that found many African-Americans believe Kaepernick is being punished for launching the player protests in 2016, when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

“There is a counternarrative to the narrative that the NFL is losing fans because of the protests,” said Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners, the research firm that conducted the poll. “That is that the NFL is losing fans because of collusion and racial injustice.”

Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly blackballing him because of his political protest.

Although football remains entrenched as the nation’s most popular sport, television ratings for NFL games fell nearly 10 percent in the 2017 regular season. Viewership for the 2018 Super Bowl was also down, falling to 2009 levels.

The reasons for the decline have been hotly disputed. People have cited growing concern over concussions and off-field problems such as domestic violence. They also point to cord-cutting and the rise of social media, which allows people to follow games without actually tuning in. They also have pointed to the player protests and the racially divided reaction to them.

The BlackPac poll found that 59 percent of black registered voters in the swing states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina agree that NFL teams colluded to block Kaepernick from joining a team. One in four disagreed, while 17 percent either did not know or refused to speculate.

The survey also found that 21 percent of respondents said they watched less football in 2017 than they had previously, while 14 percent said they stopped watching altogether. Some 47 percent said their viewing habits were unchanged, while 19 percent either refused to answer or said they did not know.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states in the survey.

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1:28 PMA new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.

And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.

The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.

“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.

NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.

President Donald Trump added to their worries with a series of tweets in which he linked declining NFL television ratings to the protests and by conflating the protests with disrespect for the flag. In a speech in September, he also profanely called on NFL owners to cut any players who protest during the anthem.

At the same time, many African-Americans are angered by the treatment of Kaepernick, who has been unable to land a job with an NFL team for more than a year. The new poll tracks with others that found many African-Americans believe Kaepernick is being punished for launching the player protests in 2016, when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

“There is a counternarrative to the narrative that the NFL is losing fans because of the protests,” said Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners, the research firm that conducted the poll. “That is that the NFL is losing fans because of collusion and racial injustice.”

Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly blackballing him because of his political protest.

Although football remains entrenched as the nation’s most popular sport, television ratings for NFL games fell nearly 10 percent in the 2017 regular season. Viewership for the 2018 Super Bowl was also down, falling to 2009 levels.

The reasons for the decline have been hotly disputed. People have cited growing concern over concussions and off-field problems such as domestic violence. They also point to cord-cutting and the rise of social media, which allows people to follow games without actually tuning in. They also have pointed to the player protests and the racially divided reaction to them.

The BlackPac poll found that 59 percent of black registered voters in the swing states of Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina agree that NFL teams colluded to block Kaepernick from joining a team. One in four disagreed, while 17 percent either did not know or refused to speculate.

The survey also found that 21 percent of respondents said they watched less football in 2017 than they had previously, while 14 percent said they stopped watching altogether. Some 47 percent said their viewing habits were unchanged, while 19 percent either refused to answer or said they did not know.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states in the survey.