The Washington Redskins are showing the world how to run a valuable franchise into the ground.
It’s rare to find a sports city that claims a baseball or basketball team as its favorite over the local NFL team. It does happen, but it’s usually because of deep-rooted fandom of other teams — Los Angeles, Boston and St. Louis when it had the Rams are a few examples.
But try finding another longstanding NFL team that has fallen from being the undisputed king of a city, to being challenged by NHL and WNBA teams in popularity polls.
A new Washington Post poll shows that the Redskins are not the No. 1 team in Washington D.C. anymore, and it’s not even close. The NFL should be worried that one of its flagship teams is losing fans at an alarming rate.
Nationals soundly beat Redskins in popularity poll
Maybe it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the Washington Nationals were listed as D.C.’s most popular team. They just won a World Series. Back on July 4, normally a big day for the Nats, their stadium seemed mostly empty. Winning drives popularity more than anything else.
Still, it’s a shock to see 28 percent of fans tell the Post that the Nationals were their favorite team. The Redskins were at just 13 percent, down 21 percentage points from 2010.
Losing out to the Nationals less than a month after they won a World Series isn’t all that bad. But Washington was barely beating some of the other teams from the city in the Post’s poll:
Nationals (MLB): 28 percent
Redskins (NFL): 13 percent
Capitals (NHL): 10 percent
Mystics (WNBA): 8 percent
Wizards (NBA): 8 percent
D.C. United (MLS): 6 percent
No local teams: 23 percent
The Redskins are still ahead of some of the other teams in Washington D.C., but not by as much as you’d think, and it’s not like their popularity is close to rebounding.
Redskins’ support way down among younger fans
All the reasons for the Redskins’ steep drop in popularity are well known. They’re 1-9 this season. They’ve had one playoff win since the 1999 season. The Redskins play in a bland Maryland stadium that isn’t easily accessible. Team president Bruce Allen and owner Daniel Snyder have done everything possible to alienate fans. There’s really nothing to be excited about when it comes to the franchise.
Last week, Redskins fans chanted, “Sell the team!” in response to the team’s constant losing, and Snyder making the franchise one of the most unlikable in sports.
The NFL doesn’t force owners to sell just because they’re not winning and popularity is dwindling. But it’s getting harder to ignore how a once-proud franchise is deteriorating. For a long time the Redskins owned Washington D.C. Now they’re losing multiple generations. The Post said 22 percent of Washingtonians who were 65 or older listed the Redskins as their favorite team, and that dropped to 15 percent among those 40-to-64 years old, then 11 percent among those 30-to-39 years old and only 6 percent among those 18 to 29.
It’s startling that an NFL team is named as the favorite by only 6 percent of 18-to-29-year olds in a city.
The love of the Redskins is dying in Washington. The NFL has a problem.
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