The National Football League will reportedly keep pressing its social justice messaging on the field in the coming season.
Front Office Sports, citing unnamed sources, reported the NFL has a 10-year, $250 million commitment to combat systemic racism — and intends to promote social justice with on-field signage, decals on player helmets, and in-stadium public service announcements.
The NFL also plans to make ''Lift Every Voice and Sing'' — often referred to as the Black national anthem — a prominent part of all big league events, and likely highlight victims of racial injustice with a ''Say Their Stories'' project, the news site reported.
''They’re bringing back a lot of elements from last year,'' an unnamed source told the news outlet.
In 2020, the league suffered its first regular-season TV audience downturn in three years amid the COVID-19 pandemic — but the news outlet noted social justice messaging impacts viewership as well.
The push comes as other leagues dial back, the news outlet reported, including the NBA, which removed most of the social justice signs and messages that were prevalent on courts and player jerseys last season.
The news outlet said this year’s social justice initiative could be as big, if not bigger, than last season’s in terms of spending, resources and commitment.
The effort will kick off in the pre-season that starts August 5: NFL end zones will include messages such as ''End Racism'' and ''Inspire Change,'' the news outlet reported.
This coming Aug. 14 will mark the five-year anniversary of quarterback Colin Kaepernick protesting the national anthem during a preseason game. Since then the NFL has see-sawed in its support of protesting players — as former President Donald Trump called for clubs to fire protesting players in 2017.
The controversy may have impacted the league’s TV ratings as well.
At the height of player protests during the 2016-17 seasons, the league’s once impregnable TV audiences plummeted 8% and 10% respectively, the news outlet reported.
As the protests receded, the NFL’s TV audiences bounced back to grow 5% apiece during the 2018-2019 seasons, the news outlet reported. But average audiences fell 8% to 15.1 million viewers in 2020 as the league embraced social justice messaging on helmets, warm-up gear, fields and stadiums, the news outlet noted.
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