Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Economics and Finance

First Advisor

Briggs Depew

Second Advisor

Paul Fjeldsted

Abstract

This project is a study in econometric modeling of the effects of the protests of the national anthem in the NFL during the 2016-2017 seasons. The project is created to determine the accuracy or lack thereof of President Donald Trump's statement that the cause of the decline in viewership and ratings (and thus business) of NFL games was caused by protests that deterred US viewers.

Using viewership and rating data, along with various protest indexes created by collecting game-level protest data, an econometric model was constructed to allow for control over various endogenous and exogenous variables that surround NFL in-season data. These variables include: home vs. away team; time of day; day of the week; which week the game occurred in the regular season; win/loss record of the opposing teams at the time of each game; which network or networks televised the game; percentage of the national audience with access to the televised game; and, importantly, the method of protesting of the NFL players. Fixed effects were also incorporated to control as much as possible for holidays - i.e. the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, and the change of seasons (from Week 17 in year one to Week 1 in the next, and so on).

The data was run through various regressions to test for the individual effect of each form of protest and their aggregates against a one-week lagged effect on viewership, in both the binary and continuous forms.

According to the findings of the model, dummy forms of the protest variables did not have a significant enough effect on viewership to reject the null hypothesis, but four of the direct forms of protesting were significant at the 1% level, allowing the rejection of the null and suggesting that the number of NFL protesters at each game did indeed have a negative effect on NFL viewership in the United States.

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