NFL Attendance: Real Data, Not Spin

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Overall attendance is down slightly (a little over 3%, year-to-year), through Week 14:

2017:  13,983,341

2016:  14,444,931

My calculations from data in Pro Football Reference (for 2017 and 2016)

TV viewership is down somewhat more. It was down 8% in 2016 and is down a little less than 6% this year.

Those pictures of “empty stadiums” do not accurately reflect a mass abandonment by fans. It is more accurate to say that the league’s attendance and TV viewership are facing slow but significant erosion.

At this point, we cannot attribute that loss to a specific cause.  Some people may be turned off by the (now fading) player protests, others by the growing evidence of widespread brain injuries, and still others by rising interest in soccer or other entertainment. Weighting those causes is a job for more detailed studies.

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 11

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ The devastation–human and material–keeps growing from California wildfires


Stand and Deliver: Goodell send letter telling NFL players he wants them to stand during anthem(ESPN)

No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.

Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.

Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted

(a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
(b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
(c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

 Horny Harvey and Hollywood Hypocrisy

Harvey Weinstein’s Behavior Was ‘Worst Kept Secret in Hollywood,” says actor (Fox News)

Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.

I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.

 The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it

Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:

  • Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
    • Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
    • Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
    • Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
  • The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
    • The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
  • What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it?  What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
  • What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.

Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?

Comment: Kissinger  has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)

My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”


Hat Tip to

◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, October 8

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Good News/Bad news on the Hurricane front: Nate missed highly-populated New Orleans, smacked the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Biloxi

Comment: NOLA and surrounding areas are below sea levelso they need levees and pumping stations in the best of times. The pumps have not always been working properly but most of them seem to be okay this time around. Thank goodness.

Here’s the report from the local NOLA paper:

The people at FEMA must be thinking, “Texas. . . Florida . . . Puerto Rico . . . and now Mississippi.

This is the Book of Job.”

Pres. Trump calls Chuck Schumer and asks the Democrat to broker a healthcare deal (Washington Post)

Frustrated by Republican inaction on health care, President Trump tweeted Saturday that he had reached out to the Senate Democratic leader in hopes of brokering a deal for a “great HealthCare Bill.”

Trump said that he had called Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday to ask whether Democrats would work with him on health care — and Trump indicated that he had not been entirely rebuffed. –Washington Post

Comment: What does a move like this tell us about Trump?

  1. He’s frustrated with Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and a “do nothing” Senate.
  2. He is transactional, not relational or ideological, on many issues. Healthcare is one.
    • When he’s against Trump, he’s “Crying Chuck.” Not this time, but just wait.
  3. He’s a deal maker who knows that you often need to keep pressure on both your allies and adversaries.
    • The pressure on the Republicans comes from this outreach to Schumer.
    • The pressure on the Democrats is that Trump is letting Obamacare meltdown.

Violent Antifa thugs plan to deface Columbus statues on Columbus Day (PJ Media)

Comment: Dean Vernon Wormer has a word for them:


VP Pence leaves Indianapolis Colts game before it starts after SF 49ers take a knee during the national anthem (Indianapolis Star)

Comment: I have said from the beginning that Trump picked a winning fight here.

  • First, most voters agree with him.
  • Second, all his base agrees with him.
  • Third, he attacked the NFL at a time it was on the ropes. He can take credit for the decline, some attributable to other issues (such as fans being troubled by player brain injuries).
  • Finally, protests like this cannot last forever. As they slowly ebb (because players think they’ve made their point or because their endorsements dry up), Trump can say “I won.”

In any case, it’s smart politics for Trump to wrap himself in the flag while others symbolically stomp on it.




ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, September 24

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

North Korea says it will “inevitably” go to war with US. That was the essence of NK foreign minister’s speech to UN (Los Angeles Times)

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho warned Saturday that it is “inevitable” that his country will launch a missile toward the mainland United States in revenge for the insults President Trump has directed at leader Kim Jong Un.

“None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission,” Ri said. –Los Angeles Times

US bombers fly off the coast of North Korea, north of the 38th parallel, in a major show of force (Reuters via Straits Times, Singapore)

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday (Sept 23), in a show of force the Pentagon said demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump. –Reuters

Comment: The US flights are not only a message to Pyongyang, they are a message to China that a war could break out and the US would use overwhelming firepower. Only that prospect, and the related prospect of Japan and South Korea going nuclear themselves, has moved China to act.

My hunch is that Beijing is trying to figure out what kinds of pressure they can use to change North Korean policy or, alternatively, if they want to risk backing a coup.

From the serious (North Korea) to the ridiculous (Trump versus the NFL, NBA): What happened? And what makes it important?

The tweets and text below explain what happened.

It’s important because it exemplifies America’s techtonic cultural and political divide, particularly over race and patriotism.

And it highlights what Trump’s supporters like about him (straight talk, forthright defense of America) and what his opponents loathe (vile language that worsens an inflamed situation).

On Twitter and at his big rally in Huntsville, AL, Pres. Trump attacked NFL players who “took a knee,” rather than stand for the National Anthem. That behavior has spread among NFL teams this season.

A flurry of counter-attacks came from the NFL, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell. This kerfuffle spread to the NBA when LeBron James called the president “a bum” and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry decided not to visit the White House.

Immediately, CNN decided this was all about Trump being a white nationalist racist. They talked about the Alabama rally being a “white crowd,” etc.


Comment: Here my initial take.

  • The President took a traditional position in an untraditional way. It is hardly surprising that a President supports American patriotism and its prominent symbols.
  • It is beneath the dignity of the office to call the players “sons of bitches.”
  • The players have free-speech rights.
    • Pros don’t have to stand for the national anthem unless their contracts say otherwise.
    • College and high-school players are in a more complicated situation. The coaches and school administrators can set rules of behavior.
  • Fans have rights, too, and can boo the players, refuse to buy products they advertise, refuse to go to games, and so on.

Three points have been missing in this discussion, which seems to be a big deal on cable TV.

  • Professional athletics is entertainment. The athletes are entertainers, same as Hollywood actors, Nashville singers, or sports networks like ESPN. Taking controversial political stances will narrow their audience appeal, as they are finding out. NFL owners know that. They must be beside themselves.
  • The country’s racial and political divide was bound to spread beyond the normal boundaries of politics. Black athletes were drawn in to this controversy, just as they were drawn into the Black Power controversies of the 1960s.
    • Now, the activists on all sides will mobilize and get involved. This is Al Sharpton territory.
  • This could well be brilliant politics for Trump
    • It plays perfectly to his base and to the majority of Americans who respect the flag and other patriotic symbols. Trump knows that in his gut and he moved to exploit it. (His own crude language may undercut some of that support.)
    • The NFL fan base–and Trump voters–hate the players’ disrespect for the flag and national anthem.
    • With NFL attendance and viewership down this year (for whatever reasons), Trump can take credit for leading a parade that was already marching down the street.
    • The only thing that could be better for Trump would be for leading Democrats to support the kneeling athletes. That would be a gift to Trump, but the Democratic base may force prospective presidential candidates to take that position, just as it is forcing them into support for single-payer health care.





Mississippians LOVE QB Dak Prescott, leading the Cowboys, former star at Miss. State

Prescott Pushing Romo Into Background In Dallas (link here)

It’s no surprise that Mississippi State fans love seeing the greatest player in their school’s history doing so well in the NFL.

What has impressed me is how every Ole Miss fan is thrilled to see this great player from their school rival succeeding at the next level.

This isn’t the Auburn/’Bama burn-em-to-the-ground rivalry.

In fact, I’ve noticed that my friends root for whatever SEC team is playing a Bowl game.

dak-prescott-and-momThey want their own team to be #1, naturally, but if that isn’t to be, they want another team from their state or at least their conference to do well. That’s partly because we all have friends who went to other schools.

What about race?

As best I can tell, in big-time sports, the only color that counts is the school’s colors. And that’s it. That’s as true in Mississippi as it is in Ohio or Michigan, and it has been for several decades now. (What I don’t know, because I don’t live in these states, is how this trans-racial school spirit transfers to other areas of social life.)

I can also remember a time–in Jim Crow Mississippi–when Zak’s multi-racial family would have appalled a large portion of the white population. Those days, too, are long past for nearly all Mississippians. I have seen countless posts from friends saying how touched they are by Zak’s devotion to his family.

That’s why I say EVERYBODY in Mississippi wants Zak to be a superstar on the level of Peyton and Eli.