31% of Fans Find NFL Less Enjoyable with New Safety Rules This Year

South Orange, NJ, November 2, 2018– With the NFL having instituted a number of new safety rules this season, the football-loving public has weighed in, with 31% saying the game is less enjoyable, and only 11% saying it is more enjoyable.  54% say it has no effect.

Among men, 35% say it is less enjoyable, and among women, the number is 15%.

“It is noteworthy that men prefer the more violent game, as articulated by President Trump,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute.

Responses are based on the number of people (469) who have said that they have watched NFL games this season.

The poll was conducted October 29-31 among 839 adults across the country, on landlines and cellphones.  Of the group that has watched the NFL this year, the sampling has a margin of error of +/- 4.6%.

The poll also asked the “watch NFL group” questions about officiating, and it found that 24% believe officiating has gotten worse, with only 11% saying it has improved.  54% said it remained the same.

Meanwhile, the NFL took the unusual step of firing an official after five games, the first time a ref was fired in mid-season in 50 years.  40% of fans (from the full sample) called that a positive move, with 28% calling it a PR stunt.

The Official Seton Hall Sports Poll podcast discussing this topic with Seth Everett and Rick Gentile can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/mt/podcast/seton-hall-sports-poll/id1053266467.


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

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For more information, visit www.shu.edu.

About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone October 29-31 among adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.  The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.

Media: Media: Marty Appel, AppelPR@gmail.com; Rick Gentile (917) 881-9489
Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall
michael.ricciardelli@shu.edu, 908-447-3034

The results:

  1. Have you watched any NFL games this season?

1 – Yes: 56%
2 – No: 43%
3 – Don’t know: 1%


  1. The NFL has adopted several new rules designed to increase player safety, including leading with the helmet in making a tackle. Have the new rules made the game more enjoyable to watch, less enjoyable or have had no effect?

1 – More enjoyable: 11%
2 – Less enjoyable: 31%
3 – No effect: 54%
4 – Don’t know/No opinion: 4%

  1. Do you think officiating in the NFL this season has generally improved, gotten worse or remained the same?

1 – Improved: 11%
2 – Gotten worse: 24%
3 – Remained the same: 54%
4 – Don’t know/No opinion: 11%

  1. An NFL referee was fired after 5 games this season for bad performance – the first time a ref was fired in mid-season in 50 years. Do you think this is a positive move by the league or a PR stunt to answer criticism of general bad officiating?

1 – Positive move: 40%
2 – PR stunt: 28%
3 – Both: 5%
4 – Don’t know/No opinion: 27%

  1. How closely would you say you follow sports, very closely, closely, not closely or not at all?

1 – Very closely: 17%
2 – Closely: 29%
3 – Not closely: 37%
4 – Not at all: 16%


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