The outrage over the decision by 15 Jacksonville Jaguars players to take a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” before a game last month may have just been hot air after all, according to a University of North Florida survey of 509 registered voters in Duval County.
Most voters say the hoopla hasn’t effected their likelihood to watch or attend a game, and team owner Shad Khan — who issued a statement challenging President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks slamming players who kneel during the national anthem — has a 65 percent approval rating.
Head coach Doug Marrone has a 58 percent approval rating, according to the survey. The Jaguars stand atop the AFC South after a 30-9 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday that showcased the team’s strong defense and running game. Quarterback Blake Bortles — who continues to struggle — threw a career-low 14 passes.
The survey did not test Bortles’ approval rating.
“Early season success and a division lead has the city behind the Jags’ owner and head coach. And if this is the year they finally turn things around, you can expect those numbers to rise,” said Michael Binder, a UNF political science professor who runs the school’s public opinion research lab, which conducted the survey.
Fifty-three percent of voters said the kneeling controversy has had no influence on their decision to attend a game, and 49.6 percent said the same of watching games on TV.
“For all of the attention that the pregame protests have gotten, on average most football fans are unaffected,” Binder said.
There is a partisan breakdown in who says they are less likely to watch or attend a Jaguars game.
Sixty-three percent of Republican voters said they were less likely to watch games on TV, and 57 percent said they are less likely to attend a game.
Democrats are not bothered: 66 percent said the controversy has had no influence, and 18 percent actually said they are more likely to watch and attend games now.