Coronavirus: Over 70 percent of Americans say they wouldn't feel safe attending sporting events until vaccine available


While it feels like it has been a lot longer, it hasn’t quite been a month since the NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive for coronavirus. Other leagues and sporting events quickly followed suit.

Despite not even a month passing and despite the pleas of medical professionals that we continue to exercise caution and social distancing to keep the coronavirus from spreading, it seems there are some who think — or at least want — NCAA football and the NFL to get underway as currently scheduled.

Fans might have other ideas.

Glimpse of the future? Three-quarters of poll respondents said they would watch games played without fans. (AP/Ted Shaffrey)
Glimpse of the future? Three-quarters of poll respondents said they would watch games played without fans. (AP/Ted Shaffrey)

Poll: 72 percent wouldn’t feel safe without a vaccine

On Thursday, Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business released the results of a poll it conducted this week.

While the sample size is small — 762 respondents — the results show that the vast majority of Americans aren’t ready to return to arenas (margin of error: +/- 3.6 percent).

Asked whether they’d feel safe attending games before the development of a coronavirus vaccine, 72 percent of all respondents said no, with 12 percent saying they would attend if social distancing protocols could be maintained.

Only 13 percent said they’d feel safe attending games with no changes, as they’ve attended in the past.

Seventy-four percent responded they believe it’s possible, likely or very likely sports will be canceled for the rest of this year.

Among respondents who identified as sports fans, the number who said they wouldn’t feel safe attending games until development of a vaccine was 61 percent.

Medical experts have said it will take at least until 2021 for a vaccine to be approved for use.

“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.”

Small number say NFL should start as planned

Other results from the poll:

  • Only 6 percent believe the NFL should start its season as planned; 70 percent said the league should not start up to insure player safety, and 20 percent said the league should resume but allow players the choice not to play

  • 76 percent would watch broadcasted games played without fans with the same interest as previously

  • While sports fans miss their games, 76 percent said leagues shut down at the right time, while 16 percent said the wait to suspend events was too long

  • 84 percent said the IOC made the right decision to push the Summer Olympics back to 2021

  • A majority — 59 percent — believe teams have an obligation to pay daily stadium and arena workers who are missing paychecks because of the virus

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Originally published