Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is as much of a wild card as it gets among the NFL ownership group. But even he takes the traditional stance when it comes to national anthem protests.
Irsay spoke to USA Today’s Jarrett Bell in a story about the NFL’s declining ratings. The protests of the national anthem might be among the reasons the league has suffered in the ratings department this season. Irsay seems to think so, at least. He says it distracts from the theatre and the spectacle that is football.
“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Irsay told Bell. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”
There are probably plenty of owners who agree with Irsay’s statement. The problem is the anthem protests aren’t the sole reason for the league’s viewership issues.
If anything, the anthem protests have brought more attention to a league that has truly benefited from the 24/7 news cycle like no other. Plus, the NFL isn’t much of a show anymore, unless NFL referees are creating their own sitcom. Flags are flying far too often and many of which mitigate the excitement of the show.
But, the anthem protests are something that needs to be addressed eventually. It will be interesting to see how the league officially responds.