Kyle Rossini, DMSB/SSH’20, participated in RISE, Northeastern University’s Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo, to present his research on National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) athletes who utilize their athletic platforms to influence social change.
According to Rossini, the two leagues have taken different positions when it comes to “political athleticism.” While the NBA has praised players for speaking out, the NFL has taken a harsher stance on player protests. Some of this could be attributed to President Trump’s pressure on the league to ban the protests.
Rossini found a correlation between NFL and NBA viewership and their handling of social change and player protests. Over the past three seasons, he found that NBC’s Sunday Night Football declined by 4.3 million viewers. During the same time period, viewership of NBA final games increased from 19.9 million to 20.4 million.
“The presence of politics in sports now has the power to play a crucial role in deterring and attracting viewers,” Rossini said. “Athletes are becoming more influential figures and can singlehandedly sway ratings.”
Over 2,000 industry leaders, investors, researchers, technology enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs attended RISE, which ended with an awards ceremony in East Village.
James C. Bean, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, congratulated both participants and winners of the event. “Today is a day to celebrate our position as a leading research university, and for you, the students, to practice Northeastern’s unique brand of use-inspired research,” he said.