Kneeling-related boycott? Actually, Miami Dolphins’ home attendance is up

Fans hold up Stand Up signs for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) as he kneels during the national anthem at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 27, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

It’s an emotionally charged topic and has been for nearly two years. Whenever the subject of players kneeling during the national anthem is raised, inevitably there’s a vocal group of fans who say they now prefer to be known as former fans.

And while it’s undeniable that the league has taken a hit because of the protests, it cannot be said that large numbers of Dolphins fans are avoiding Hard Rock Stadium because of it.

In fact, when figures for recent Dolphins home games are compared to the pre-protest era, they reveal a slight uptick in attendance.

The Dolphins averaged 65,228 tickets distributed for the seven games at Hard Rock Stadium this past season. And they averaged 65,512 in 2016, when four members of the Dolphins first joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling to protest social inequality. But both figures are greater than the 64,795 from the protest-free 2015 season. The 2017 attendance represented a 0.67 percent increase over 2015.

None of the above figures include the Dolphins’ two games in London over the past three years. Those games both drew more than 83,000 fans but including them would artificially inflate the home attendance average by a 2,000 per game.

The Dolphins were 16th in the NFL in home attendance last season after ranking 21st in 2016 and 17th in 2015.

The leaders in total home attendance this past season were Dallas (741,775 home tickets distributed), Green Bay (624,742), and the Jets (620,496). Bringing up the rear were Cincinnati (552,316) and the Chargers (202,687).

For as much as everyone likes to poke fun at the hapless Cleveland Browns, their home attendance managed to finish ahead of the Bengals and Chargers plus Indianapolis, Pittsburgh (that’s no misprint), Chicago, Tampa Bay and Oakland.

The Cowboys, Packers and Giants led in total attendance for 2017 and the best road draws were the Chargers, Seahawks and Patriots.

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