Seton Hall Poll Takes ‘Kneeling’ Question to Just NFL Fans, vs. Last Week’s ‘All Americans’

South Orange, NJ, October 5, 2017 — Statisticians at the Seton Hall Sports Poll dug a little deeper this week, looking at figures reflecting the opinions of people who identified themselves as “fans of the NFL,” and separating their responses to the overall responses published last week.

The excision of those results showed that nearly a third – 30% – said they were watching fewer games this season (9% were watching more, 55% about the same), and that 52% of those watching less gave the reason as players protesting the national anthem.

The poll was conducted last week and results covering all Americans were released on September 28.  (  The poll numbers for those who said they were NFL fans were not dramatically different from the overall numbers, but still of interest.

As to whether NFL fans agreed or disagreed with the act of protest during the national anthem, 38% agreed with the gesture, (vs. 33% of “all” responders last week), and 45% disagreed with it (vs. 44% of “all responders.”).

On President Trump’s call for those who kneel to be fired, 28% of NFL fans agree with the President, (exactly even with the result from all Americans), while 55% agree with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the President’s statement were divisive, which was up from the 50% when all Americans were asked.


(This was not part of last week’s release).

The poll also revealed that despite talks of “cord-cutting” and efforts to introduce other devices for fans to follow games, 91% of NFL fans still watch the games on traditional television, with only 4% saying “on computer” and just 1% citing a mobile device.   

“If this is the emerging technology for watching live football, it clearly has a long way to go,” noted Rick Gentile, Director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute.

The poll of 845 adults (on both landline and cellphone) was conducted across the US on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday of last week.  It has a margin of error of 3.4%.   411 of the respondents made up the “fans of the NFL” sample.


(This was not part of last week’s release).

Only 18% of Americans believe that ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill should be fired because of statements she posted on her personal Twitter account, which a White House spokesperson called a “fireable offense.”  She had called President Trump a “white supremacist.”   

38% believed that reporters working for media companies should be prohibited from using personal social media accounts to make controversial social or political statements.

68% said Ms. Hill should not be fired; 18% said she should. There was a sharp divide among African-American responders and whites; 84% of African-Americans felt she should not be fired and only 5% said she should.  Among whites, it was 65% for not firing her, and 22% for firing her.

“Firing her was obviously considered too severe,” noted Gentile.  “But her Tweet seems to have opened a dialogue about limits.  That could be a healthy thing.”

A podcast by Seth Everett interviewing Rick Gentile, can be found at


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Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car from New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark.

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About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone September 25-27 among 845 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 due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. 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 Public Relations;
Seton Hall University Associate Director of Media Relations, Michael Ricciardelli 908-447-3034

The results:

The Poll revisited last week’s results by separating out the responses from people who identified themselves as NFL fans.  The second column shows those results (the first column repeats the results by all respondents:

  1. This season, do you find yourself watching more NFL games, fewer NFL games or about the same amount of NFL games?

More   5%       9

Fewer 29        30

About the same 50        55

Don’t know 16          6




  1. Why have you watched fewer NFL games? Please pick your main reason from the following:The games aren’t as good as in past years   3
    Too many games on TV   2          3

Too many commercial interruptions   4          4

The players’ protests during the national anthem 47        52

Boycotting in support of player protests   6          6

Bothered by danger of head injuries   1          1

Other 21        23

Don’t know 15          7


3.Do you generally watch live NFL games on TV, a mobile device or on a computer?

TV 70        91

Mobile device   1          1

Computer   3          4

Don’t watch at all 19          4

Don’t know   7          1

4. Colin Kaepernick waged a protest last season by kneeling during the national anthem. This year other players have continued the protest by not standing during the playing of the anthem. Do you approve, disapprove or have no opinion about the gesture?

Approve 32        38

Disapprove 44        45

No opinion 22        17

Don’t know   3          1


5. Which of the following statements do you agree with most:

I don’t support the players’ right to protest and believe they should be ordered to stand for the anthem or be dropped from the team if they refuse 16       15

I support the players’ right to protest but believe they should stand for the anthem, finding a different way to express their political opinions 49     49

I support the players’ right to protest and I think not standing for the anthem is an acceptable way to protest                       35          36

6. Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by an NFL team and some say it is because of last year’s protest. Do you think he would be signed today if he had not protested or has he not been signed because he’s not a good enough player?

Protested 47        57

Not good enough 19        23

Don’t know/No opinion 34        20


7. President Trump has called on NFL owners to fire any player who refuses to stand for the national anthem. Commissioner Roger Goodell and several NFL owners have responded that the president’s comments were divisive. Whom do you most agree with?

President Trump 28        28

Commissioner Goodell and the owners 50        55

Neither                                                                                     7          7

Both   2          1

Don’t know/No opinion 13          9









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