Survey provides food for thought on what sport is facing


Every day, a civil war rages in our hearts, boils in our souls, fulminates our conscience. We know what we are supposed to do, and most of all we have done it. We stayed at home. We have masked and gloved each time we venture into grocery stores. We have kept our social distance.

But that doesn’t mean we have everything we need: happy hours, Little League games, balls, graduations – and alarm clocks, funerals, farewells to the grave and farewells in hospital rooms.

And so comes the daily skirmish between what we want and what we do, what we miss and how we deal with it. Sports enthusiasts feel it as much as anyone. And every day, it seems, we are teased. Baseball is about building your own viral exile in Arizona. Basketball offers us a H-O-R-S-E tournament this weekend. Football proceeds to the repechage. The NHL calls it a “unique” playoff format.

People think: June? July? December? 2021?

The Sharkey Institute at Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business released a sobering – if not surprisingly surprising – survey on Thursday. The biggest point to remember from the 762 respondents interviewed from April 6 to 8 (divided equally between cell phones and landlines) was as follows:

People are not yet ready to embrace the old normal. And maybe never.

In a nationwide survey, 72 percent said they would not return to the games until a vaccine that successfully fights the coronavirus is shown to be effective. Among those who identify as sports fans, the number is still 61%. And since most experts do not believe that such a vaccine can reasonably be expected until 2021 …

Well, it certainly portrays a solemn image of what the sport is facing.

We can travel the world and see examples of what the first steps back in sport will look like. In Germany, plans are well advanced to take over the Bundesliga, which is not only the best league in a crazy football nation, but also the football league which has the highest attendance figures in the world year after year .

The practice started this week. The 36 stadiums are expected to host games starting in May that will require an average of about 240 players, coaches, coaches and support staff. Empty stadiums will cost club owners millions of euros – and although they will provide some comfort to viewers, these “ghost games” will also be discordant to watch, chanting crowds replaced by a wide range of empty seats.

And what about when fans are allowed to enter? In Belarus, the football and hockey leagues have continued uninterrupted due to a low virus curve, and the Premier League has an average of around 1,200 fans who receive an antiseptic hand gel when they enter the doors , then their temperature is taken by doctors.

In a European landscape just as hungry for sports as its American cousins, these have become extremely popular matches, with many fans in England adopting teams and getting their patches in the gambling halls betting on these games (as well as other offers such as Russian table tennis and British darts).

Perhaps such measures are a possible inevitable condition of future sports gatherings, although teams are faced with auxiliary nightmares in such a configuration. What if you pay the best price for a playoff game … and at the front door your temperature is 100.3? These are things that weren’t problems before; these will be huge problems in the future.

In the Seton Hall poll, 70% think the NFL – which is doing everything in its power to project a sense of relative normality – should not start in time. Twenty percent are in favor of starting the league – but allowing players to decide for themselves whether they want to put themselves in danger. Only 6 percent say the league should start as planned.

You can challenge the numbers if you wish – the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. But that surely represents an important truth: we can aspire to the return of sport in a vacuum. But when you start to apply certain realities to this daily fight against COVID-19, it complicates things. No matter how much we can rage against our boredom.

At the end of the day, what is right usually trumps what we want. At the very least, this poll reaffirms it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here