Naperville Business Attorney Discuss Pizza Company’s Claim Regarding NFL Anthem Protest

anthem protest, Naperville business law attorneyIt is virtually impossible right now to open a newspaper or an internet browser without seeing a news story that addresses the controversy over protests during the national anthem at NFL games. As you might expect, such stories are not just limited to the sports section; they are front-page pieces that attempt to cover a phenomenon that has effectively divided the country in recent months.

While the debate is bound to continue regarding whether athletes kneeling during The Star Spangled Banner is appropriate way to protest the treatment of minorities by police, many who believe that it is not have reportedly stopped watching NFL games. This, in turn, has led to decreased revenue for the league’s television sponsors—at least according to the owner of Papa John’s. As a business law attorney, I understand the importance of identifying causes for decreasing profits, but I also recognize the risks that come with speaking publicly on highly charged issues.

A Controversial Statement

Last week, Papa John’s amended its 2017 sales and profit forecasts in a conference call with investors. The pizza company’s CEO John Schnatter stated that, “The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.” Schnatter went on to take the league to task for not taking control of the anthem protest situation last season when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. “The controversy,” Schnatter said, “is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”

Papa John’s stock is currently down by about 24 percent this year, while viewership of NFL games are only down about 7.5 percent from the same time last year. It may be true that some fans have stopped watching due to the anthem protest debate, but network television is struggling as an industry. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are also putting a dent in network broadcast ratings.

Limited Shelf Life for Hot Topics

While Schnatter did not take sides on the anthem protest issue—aiming his statements directly at the NFL’s leadership—his comments were taken by many to indicate his opposition to the players’ actions. Some have praised Schnatter’s frankness while others have been put off by his apparent stance. Either way, business experts believe the whole thing will probably blow over in short order.

“People get upset,” said Lakshman Krishnamurthi, “and the outrage lasts for a week.” Krishnamurthi is a marketing professor at Northwestern University. He pointed to large-scale protests in several years ago against Chick-fil-A when the fast-food chain’s president expressed his opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Since then, Chick-fil-A has grown to become one of the most profitable restaurant chains the country, with locations in liberal communities in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.

Messages to Investors and Shareholders

If you are required to provide your investors and shareholders with regular updates regarding the health of company, it is important to understand that anything you say could find its way to the general public—whether or not you are speaking in an official capacity. Your words could eventually have an impact on your company’s bottom line. To learn more about protecting your business and your profitability, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney today.



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