How You Ask the Question: NFL Edition

Well folks, it’s another Sunday in October and another day for me to rue how cursed my fantasy football team is this year. Both my QBs are hurt, I’ve had two players with season ending injuries, and I am getting to that level of irritated where I barely want to watch anymore.

On the plus side, I’ve just discovered that the NFL/National Anthem protests are providing me with a few new interesting statistical anecdotes.

First up, we have this interesting brand survey that shows the NFL is now one of the most divisive brands in the US. Here “divisive” really means “politically discordant”…..basically the two parties have very different current favorability ratings for them. To give you a flavor, they were more divisive than the Huffington Post, but less divisive than Fox News.

This ranking system is kind of interesting, but the article points out how unstable it is for certain brands. Getting in the headlines may give you a temporary hit, but they are starting to gather evidence that the long term impact of those hits is less than it used to be. For example, after bad press this past spring, United Airlines is now not viewed any differently by consumers than it was before the incident. It would be interesting to add some sort of weighting factor to “divisive” brands to account for temporary divisiveness vs long term.

Next up was this article, that reviewed public perception of the NFL protests based on how the polling question was asked. As is often seen with contentious issues, there is a 10 point swing when we change the wording. In this case, including the reason for the protest in the question garners more support for the cause vs a question that just mentions the protest. To note: the discrepancy came from those who support the protests, the % who opposed stayed steady regardless. This backs up my general theory that most people are only half paying attention most of the time anyway.

They also have some interesting poll numbers that show that most people support broad issues (like being against police brutality) more than they support specific actions (like kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality), which is another way certain polls can skew the results.

It’s still amazing to me how small differences in wording can change the results of polling, and how under-reported this effect often is, and it is still stunning to me that all of my obsession with stats and details never seems to translate in to a good fantasy football team. Sigh.

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