Public Opinion and Black NFL Players After the National Anthem Protests

17 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2019

Date Written: January 16, 2019


I use consumer surveys to compare black and white National Football League (NFL) stars' popularity among US adults before and after player protests during the national anthem. The popularity of 43 of the best-known NFL stars is observed in spring 2015 and spring 2018. Difference-in-differences analysis shows that black stars who participated in the protests lost three percentage points of approval in the general population relative to white players who did not participate. Protesting players especially lost popularity among whites and less educated adults. There was a particularly important backlash against black NFL players among whites without a college education. In that population, black players lost public approval relative to white players even if they did not participate in the protests. The lost popularity of non-protesting blacks is evidence of the role of racial resentment in public opinion regarding the anthem controversy.

Keywords: race, sport, racial politics, national football league, football

Suggested Citation

Lacina, Bethany, Public Opinion and Black NFL Players After the National Anthem Protests (January 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Bethany Lacina (Contact Author)

University of Rochester ( email )

300 Crittenden Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics