(National Sentinel) NFHell: The National Football League is continuing to suffer through one of its worst seasons in history, as viewership and ratings declines both continue into the final weeks.
As reported by CNN, the league normally schedules a final game of the season, which is slotted for the 8:30 p.m. EDT slot, with playoff implications for one or both teams, as a way of enticing viewers to watch.
Otherwise, games with no playoff implications or teams that are already in the playoffs and who may sit their starters so they avoid injury before the post-season are generally snooze-fests.
But NFL officials said they couldn’t find a matchup that was suitable for the last regular-season game of the year, so rather than suffer through another ratings disaster, the league has instead canceled its final Sunday Night Football game of the year.
Instead, there will be an unusually high number of games in the 4:25 p.m. EDT slot — nine in all, many with definitely post-season implications.
“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. windows,” said Howard Katz, the NFL’s broadcasting chief, in a prepared statement.
Critics of the league note that while there are several reasons for a decline in viewership — lack of stars, bad play by too many teams — the number one reason why attendance at games and overall viewership is down that is the least-mentioned is the player protests during the National Anthem.
Those were begun last season by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he was protesting outsized police violence against black men and other social justice issues.
His protests caught on with other players on other teams around the league. Players doubled down on those protests after President Donald J. Trump called them and the league out for what he and tens of millions of fans see as blatant disrespect of the country and the military.
Critics say NFL team owners and executives should spend the off-season figuring out how to temper protests while they analyze other unpopular aspects of the game as more Americans tune into the NBA, the NHL, and college football.
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