Asked what they would do if spectator sports resumed before the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has shut down professional and amateur leagues and events worldwide, 72 percent of Americans said they would not attend games, with 12 percent saying they would if social distancing could be maintained, according to poll results released Thursday by Seton Hall University.
Only 13 percent said they would feel safe attending as in the past. Among sports fans the number drops to a still significant 61 percent.
Seventy-four percent of Americans thought it was possible, likely or very likely that sports would be cancelled for the rest of this year.
Medical experts have repeatedly put the timeline for approval of a vaccine into 2021. If social distancing continues into the fall, 70 percent of the 762 Americans polled this week said the NFL should not start up to insure the players safety, with 20 percent saying the league should resume but allow the players to choose not to play, and only six percent saying the league should start up as planned.
“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. “Those who identify as sports fans, at all levels of interest, line up closely with the general population in regard to their own safety and that of the players.”
Other key findings:
Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would watch broadcasts of games played in empty stadiums with the same interest as before, with only 16 percent saying they would be less interested and 7 percent saying they would be more interested.
Seventy-six percent said sports shut down at the right time, with 16 percent saying not quickly enough and six percent saying too quickly.
Eighty-four percent felt the International Olympic Committee acted appropriately in postponing this year’s Olympic Games to 2021, with only 14 percent saying they acted too quickly.
Fifty-nine percent said teams have an obligation to pay daily arena and stadium workers for time missed because of the virus, while 33 percent said no.