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Sports Is For Liberals?

Radical chic: Colin Kaepernick sports t-shirt featuring Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton, a violent racialist and Marxist revolutionary (Manny Carabel/GettyImages)

Gallup’s new poll has some pretty interesting news about the widening schism in American life. It seems that the Great Awokening of professional sports has alienated a lot of white non-liberal Americans:

The sports industry now has a negative image, on balance, among Americans as a whole, with 30% viewing it positively and 40% negatively, for a -10 net-positive score. This contrasts with the +20 net positive image it enjoyed in 2019, when 45% viewed it positively and 25% negatively.

This slide in the sports industry’s image comes as professional and college leagues are struggling, and not always successfully, to maintain regular schedules and playing seasons amid the pandemic. Professional football, baseball and basketball games have also become focal points for public displays of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

While it’s not clear how much the various challenges and controversies swirling around the industry are each responsible for its slide in popularity, it is notable that sports has lost more support from Republicans and independents than from Democrats. In fact, Democrats’ view of the sports industry has not changed significantly in the past year, while Republicans’ has slipped from a +11 net-positive score in 2019 to a net -35 today, and independents’ from +26 to -10.

The sports industry’s image has also deteriorated more among women than men, and among older adults than those younger than 35. Sports has also lost more support from non-White than White Americans, but given the extraordinarily high ratings from non-White adults a year ago, this group continues to view the sports industry positively on balance today. That is not the case with White adults, who now view the sports industry more negatively than positively, and by a 22-point margin.

Here’s a graphic:

That is remarkable. Sports used to be a unifying phenomenon in American life, but no more — not since athletes got woke.

I can’t find the crosstabs for Gallup’s results about the media and the entertainment industry, but we know from other polls that conservatives feel quite negatively about them.

Look what the Madden video game announced yesterday:

Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job on a professional football team, but he has been affirmative-actioned into virtual football by the woke capitalists at Madden. Insane.

What does it portend for American life to have so many millions of Americans alienated from pop culture institutions (sport, entertainment, media)? Sports, of course, is the big one, because sports never before was politically charged. Now it is. The NFL season is going to be the big one. If conservatives and independents turn off the TV because they don’t want to be preached at by woke football players, it will signal a sea change in American life.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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