New Harris Sports/Harris Poll and Yahoo Finance Survey Finds Majority of Americans are Not Ready to Go to a Sports Event, Even with Masks

Although the overall population believes that the MLB and the NBA have the safest return plans, males tend to lean more towards the NBA. However, the largest portion of Americans believe none of the sports are having safe returns.

  • 13% of Americans believe the NBA and the MLB are currently having the safest returns, 1 in 5 males (20%) believe the NBA is currently having the safest returns (vs. only 7% of females believe this)
  • 34% of males between 18-34 believe the NBA is having the safest return
  • 23% of Americans believe no sports are having a safe return

Even though a large portion of Americans somewhat agree that sports should return, a small fraction of those people feel strongly about it and young males want a return the most. Not only that, but the level of the sport (professional, collegiate, etc.) has an impact on people’s beliefs of whether the sport should return.

  • 38% of Americans strongly/somewhat agree that U.S. sports leagues should return from lockdown now, but only 13% of those people strongly agree
    • 62% of Americans somewhat disagree with this
    • However, 53% of men between 18-44 somewhat/strongly agree with this
  • 41% of Americans strongly/somewhat agree that college football should return this fall, but only 13% of those people strongly agree
    • 59% of Americans at least somewhat disagree with college football resuming this fall
    • However, 52% of men between 18-34 somewhat/strongly agree with this
  • 44% of Americans strongly/somewhat agree that the NFL should start on time, but only 15% of those people strongly agree
    • 56% of Americans somewhat disagree with this
    • However, 63% of men between 18-44 somewhat/strongly agree with this

With the return of sports, the biggest question remains that of whether to have fans. 45% of Americans believe that there should be no fans in the stands, and whether there are safety precautions or not, a large majority of people agree that stadiums should not be full (83% say partially filled or have no fans at all). Only 17% of people believe the stadium should have full attendance when fans return.

The return to fans in the stands might take a while even if the stadiums take full measures to better the safety and health of the fans.

  • 70% of people do not feel very comfortable, if at all, attending a sports event in person this summer.
  • Even if everyone wore masks and followed social distancing rules, 48% of people would still feel no more comfortable attending an in-person sporting event this summer.
  • 72% of Americans say they will not feel comfortable attending sports events in-person until at least next summer if not later/ever.
    • 18% of Americans say they will never feel comfortable attending sporting events again especially those of the older generations. 25% of people 65+ will never feel comfortable at sporting events.

Another major question that still stands is how will leagues handle players that test positive for COVID-19. Americans have varying views on this, but the majority of people believe that testing positive should be taken very seriously.

  • 65% of Americans believe that if a player tests positive for COVID-19, they should quarantine that player and other players that he came in contact with, or quarantine the whole team
    • 39% say quarantine that player and other players they came in contact with, 26% say quarantine the team and postpone/cancel games, 11% say quarantine the league and postpone/cancel all games
  • 62% of Americans believe that it should only take 20% or less of players to test positive for COVID-19 to trigger the league to cancel the remainder of their season, but 11% still believe it should take more than 50% of players testing positive

One common theme seems to be that parents of children under 18 are eager for sports to come back whether it be on screen or in-person

  • 45% of parents with children under 18 somewhat/strongly agree it is appropriate for U.S. sports leagues to return from lockdown now, as compared to 34% of people who are not parents of children under 18.
  • 53% of parents with children under 18 somewhat/strongly agree that college football should return in the fall, as compared to 34% of people who are not parents of children under 18.
  • 57% of parents with children under 18 somewhat/strongly agree that the NFL season should start on time, as compared to 38% of people who are not parents of children under 18.
  • 41% of Americans with children under 18 say they feel at least somewhat comfortable attending in person sporting events this summer, compared to 25% of people without children under 18
  • 54% of parents with children under 18 have picked up watching a new sport for the first time (e.g. NASCAR, UFC, PGA, or Top Rank Boxing), as compared to 28% of people without children under 18.

21% of males have started to watch NASCAR for the first time as a result of COVID-19 and 19% of males have started watching UFC.

Download the full data here.

Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from July 17 to 20 among a nationally representative sample of 1,005 U.S. adults.