Nearly three in four sports fans say they would not feel safe attending a game or event until a vaccine for the COVID-19 disease has been developed.
The Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business, polled 762 Americans about their sentiments regarding the coronavirus pandemic and how it relates to sports. The results paint a sobering picture as to what professional and collegiate sports face in the months and years ahead.
Asked, “If sports were to resume play later this year but before a vaccine for coronavirus is developed, would you feel safe?” Seventy-two of respondents answered “Not at all.”
Thirteen percent said they would feel safe, while 12 percent said they would be comfortable, but only if attendance was restricted, with social distancing measures implemented.
“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll. “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.”
A recent poll from Gallup found that 74 percent of Americans are worried that they or someone in the family will be exposed to the coronavirus.
Sportsbooks across the nation are dark, as sports have been put on hold in an effort to combat COVID-19. Legal sports betting is operational in 17 states, but oddsmakers have little to offer their customers. Every commercial casino is additionally shuttered in the US, meaning only online sportsbooks are currently taking action.
With sports canceled in America, some legal online books have turned to rather offbeat sports, such as Belarusian soccer and table tennis in Ukraine.
President Donald Trump met with leaders of professional sports recently, and told reporters following that, “I want fans back in the arenas. Whenever we are ready. As soon as we can, obviously.”
But even when sports receives the clearance from federal and state officials to resume operations, the Seton Hall poll hints that fans might not flock back to the stadiums because of their own safety concerns. A substantial portion of poll respondents also believe sports might be canceled through the end of 2020.
“It has been suggested that sports be canceled through the end of 2020. How likely do you think this is a possibility?” Forty-six percent said “Possible,” 16 percent “Likely,” and 12 percent “Very likely.”
No sport is more valuable to US oddsmakers than football. Trump has stated that he believes the NFL season will kickoff in September as scheduled.
But the Seton Hall poll finds Americans feel otherwise. Asked if some form of social distancing is continuing in the fall, do you think the NFL should:
- Start up as planned 6
- Start up but allow players to choose not to play 20
- Not start up to ensure players safety 70
- Don’t know/No opinion 4