(YAHOO/KAKE) – Social justice protests over the summer of 2020 changed the away Americans watch sports. Nearly half of all Americans changed how they watch, according according to a new YouGov / Yahoo News poll. Athletes and leagues embraced a progressive strategy in which they tried to bring awareness to social justice and political advocacy issues. While some Americans watched more of the events due to this, a whopping three times as many spoke with their television remotes, deciding they didn’t care to watch anymore.
Of those who watch sports on TV, about 11 percent said they now watch more as a result of political and social messaging. However, 34.5 percent, more than one-third, said they are watching less. 56.3 percent said that they watched about as much as they would have if political or social messaging hadn’t been a factor.
Ratings across all major sports were down in 2020, the result of a range of factors including time-shifted sports calendars and the presidential election, but it’s clear from this poll that politics and social justice had some impact on the ratings decline.
Men were more likely to turn away from sports as a result of social messages; 37.6 percent of males said they watched less, as opposed to 28 percent of females. Meanwhile, 13 percent of men said they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, as opposed to only 7 percent of women.
The breakdown by political party runs as might be expected given the tenor of the national conversation around sports. About 13.7 percent of Democrats say they watched more sports, while 19 percent watched less. On the flipside, only about 8.6 percent of Republicans watched more sports, while 53 percent watched less once social justice messaging became prominent.
Those who considered themselves “independent” came somewhere in the middle, with about 8.7 percent saying they watched more sports in the social justice era, and about 38.6 percent saying they watched less.
The survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,606 U.S. adults interviewed online between March 22-25, 2021. Respondents were asked, “How has the discussion of politics in sports on social media impacted your viewing habits,” and given the option to answer that they watched more sports, fewer sports, or the same, with a breakout option to state that they didn’t watch any sports at all. The poll has a margin of error of ±2.7%.