Nearly half of the state’s registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of the National Football League, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
The recently mighty NFL faces both a political crisis over player protests and a public health crisis over the long-term effects of concussions in contact sports. Players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequity have attracted the wrath of President Donald Trump and his supporters. And increasing evidence that repeated concussions can cause long-term brain damage has eroded the sport’s reputation, particularly among kids, as a healthy activity.
“Trump made this an issue,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “He understood that making this about the national anthem was good politically. It’s very clear it has hurt the NFL, and that it’s polarized politically and polarized racially.”
Overall, 47 percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of the NFL — including 28 percent who said they have a very unfavorable opinion, while 27 percent said they have a favorable impression of the league.
Black voters had the most positive opinions of the NFL — 49 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable. Among Hispanic voters, 29 percent were positive and 39 percent were negative. White voters were the least impressed of all: 20 percent have a favorable impression of the league, while 55 percent have a negative impression.
“If football was trumping controversy, these numbers would be much more positive than they are,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “And they would not show the demographic patterns that are clearly evident here.”
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from June 8 to June 17 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
The University of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.