The NFL preseason has started, but along with the first taste of football in months came renewed calls for a boycott of the pro league over some player’s decision to kneel during the national anthem.
The issue is a divisive one. The players who kneel see their actions as a way to silently protest police brutality. To some, kneeling is seen as disrespectful to military veteran, the flag or the country. To other fans, it’s seen as a fair-game expression of free speech. And another subset questions why the anthem is played at all — NFL players being on the field for the anthem has only been standard practice since 2009.
Those fans who hate the protest had their outrage stoked by President Donald Trump, who has called for a boycott of the NFL if they don’t “fire or suspend” players who kneel. According to a new study from SportsBetting.ag, the offseason has done little to placate the most vocal among that crowd, many of whom live in the Sunshine State.
The online sports betting outfit found more than 75,000 geotagged tweets calling for a boycott — they sussed them out through the presence of hashtags such as #BoycottNFL, #BoycottTheNFL, and #BoycottNFLsponsors — and plotted them on a map of the United States.
The final results showed Florida had the highest volume of boycott-related tweets, with Maine, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada rounding out the top-5.
The volume may be attributable to Florida being the third-most populous state or that it serves as home to three NFL franchises, however, the rest of the list insinuates having a team nearby has a negative correlation with boycott tweets.
Arizona, home to the Cardinals, was the only other high-tweet-volume state with an NFL franchise. Maine and Mississippi have no professional team in any of the four major sports and Nevada doesn’t have an NFL franchise either, though its set to be the new home of the Oakland Raiders in the next couple years.
California, home to four franchises, and New York, home to three (yes, two play in New Jersey), had a very low volume; Texas, home to two franchises, was barely lukewarm on the heatmap. Tennessee, home to the Titans, had a medium-high volume of tweets, though franchise-less states Alaska, Montana, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Wyoming and West Virginia were the source of the same amount of Twitter outrage.
Time will tell whether the pre-season protesters follow through on a boycott with significant backing this season or if they cave and go back to spending their Sundays in front of the tube.
The map is below.