Sports gaming company DraftKings released a study earlier this month polling citizens on the upcoming return of sports. Unsurprisingly, a majority said they were ready to welcome back the major pro leagues.
With the NHL and NBA returning to action in neutral-site “bubbles” and baseball starting in fanless stadium, 78 percent of over 1,000 respondents to the survey said they were ok with spectator sports coming back without some of the traditional aspects of attendance.
A greater number said that they missed sports during the coronavirus-forced shutdowns a lot (56 percent) or a little (28 percent).
The Boston-based company released the findings last week. 1,000 self-identifying NJ sports betting fans, among other cities, were polled, along 250 who didn’t consider themselves sports fans. The survey focused on consumption habits from viewing and attending and did not ask about any wagering.
“With over half of respondents having reported missing sports during the resultant hiatus, fans across the country are inarguably eager for the return of their favorite leagues and teams, albeit with largely adjusted expectations as exemplified by our latest findings,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president, DraftKings North America, in a statement. “By deepening our understanding of the American fan through data and leveraging the technology of our platform, we are better able to adjust and serve the new experience of sports fans throughout the U.S.”
While 84 percent of respondents claimed they were concerned about COVID-19 before the leagues starting to shut down in mid-March, 56 percent said these stoppages led them to take the outbreak “more seriously”.
59 percent said the lack of games allowed them to focus on non-sports related television and movies, while 53 percent said they were able to spend more time with family and friends.
Without traditional North American fare, fans didn’t completely go hungry. Over one in four surveyed found new forms of competition to follow like esports (40 percent), international soccer (32 percent), and MMA (30 percent). 67 percent said they’ll continue to follow those new sports after the Big 4 return.
Most fans are ready for the return of sports but most think it’s too soon (39 percent) versus the right time (34 percent). The rise in cases in many states has been cause for alarm, with some athletes suggesting the timing is not right and a few opting not to play their respective seasons out of concerns for the chance of catching coronavirus.
As of now, games will be played in empty arenas and stadiums. As for the NFL, the league is allowing franchises to follow local guidance. Respondents were mixed about when they’d be comfortable attending games live.
Of the six options offered in the survey, the most popular was 4-6 months from now (24 percent), followed by until there’s a “cure” for COVID-19 (20 percent), and 0-3 months (19 percent). A majority of correspondents did agree that live attendance created concerns, like social distancing and other fans not wearing masks.