By the Chicago Tribune
That’s the takeaway from a pair of just-released surveys, one from Harris Poll and the other conducted on behalf of ESPN.
Seventy-one percent of Americans think restarting sports puts an unnecessary health risk on those involved, according to a Harris Poll study conducted this month. That survey found 61% think sports should be canceled until a COVID-19 vaccine is available and only 44% believe restarting sports now is a good idea.
It also discovered 61% of U.S. adults think restarting pro and college sports reflects sports organizations “prioritizing financial gain over” athletes’ health.
A majority also believes personal or team achievements will be cheapened by abbreviated seasons (63%) and the quality of competition will be worse than before the pandemic halted competition (63%).
The Harris Poll nevertheless found 64% of the general public believe restarting sports without fans in attendance represents “a good balance” of health risk and entertainment.
Among only sports fans, naturally, ESPN’s survey in late June found even more people (78%) support resuming competition without spectators.
Fifty-nine percent of those fans told ESPN’s pollster they “can’t wait to see sports back on TV,” and 64% said the stretch without live sports increased their appetite for games, a figure that rises to 84% among those who say they are avid fans.
“You may think that Americans are starved for sports and that the NBA bubble will have record viewership, but the percentage of self-proclaimed very frequent NBA viewers before COVID (48%) is actually higher than those who say they will watch the NBA bubble (36%),” Harris Insights & Analytics Chief Executive Will Johnson said in a statement.