Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A petition to boycott the NFL and the Super Bowl in the name of Colin Kaepernick has earned more than 200,000 signatures.
The petition officially started six months ago, calling for fans to boycott the league if Kaepernick did not play in 2017. It has been updated to specify that fans will not watch the Super Bowl. The big game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Kaepernick notably began kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. He opted out of the final year of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following that season and went unsigned in free agency during the 2017 season.
He has since turned his focus to activism, raising $1 million to organizations working in oppressing communities.
NFL ratings took a dive this season. ESPN reported that decline to be 9.7 percent fewer viewers in the 2017 season, compared to the 2016 season, according to Nielsen's latest numbers. The report stated that 16.5 million viewers watched a typical game in 2016, while 14.9 million watched in 2017.
While some have attributed the drop in ratings to fans being upset about player protests during the national anthem, NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith said Thursday that you can't attribute just one factor for the reason ratings have dipped.
"Let me kick it off this way," Smith said at the annual state of the players union address in Minneapolis. "One, I believe every bit of detailed analysis demonstrates that that is wrong. NASCAR - their championship series [viewership] is down 24, 25 percent. From 2006, I believe they're down 45 percent. There isn't a television show, news show that isn't at least experiencing a double-digit decline. To try to pin declining ratings on any single thing is being intellectually dishonest."
About 202,000 fans had signed the Change.org petition to not watch the league or the Super Bowl -- in support of Kaepernick -- as of Friday afternoon. Another petition on the site, calling for fans to boycott NFL sponsors until NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "cracks down on those who won't stand for our flag," had about 12,600 signatures as of Friday afternoon. That petition was posted more than one year ago.