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Bad news for venues: poll says few willing to go to a sporting event now, and most would wait for a vaccine; is it too soon for fanless events?

What Would It Take For Sports Fans To Feel Safe?, FiveThirtyEight asked in an article 5/12/20.

The answer: less than one quarter (24%) of respondents to an Ipsos poll of 1,109 Americans said they'd go back to a very likely (7%) or somewhat likely (14%) to attend an event in person under current circumstances.

Though such changes as mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing at venues, and a declining trend in local COVID-19 cases would help a lot or somewhat, more than 60% said it would help only a little or not help.

The bottom line: only a (who knows when) vaccine against the coronavirus would lead 51% of those polled to say it would help a lot and 13% say it would help somewhat.

Astonishingly, 27% said that they wouldn't feel comfortable even with a vaccine, a suggestion that people are shook at the concept of large gatherings, FiveThirtyEight suggests.

Of course that could change; after all, people today think nothing of attending events after getting a routine flu shot.

Venues in trouble

The near-term result, suggests the article, is that "the gate-receipts model that has dominated pro sports for as long as they’ve existed could be in jeopardy."

That also suggests that arenas and stadiums are, for now, white elephants, as other entertainment events surely face the same skepticism from potential attendees.

Watching sports

The survey suggests that 62 percent of respondents would be somewhat or very likely to watch sports on TV, even if  nearly half think sports should not return until the coronavirus is under control, with about a quarter urging a wait until a vaccine.

Some 75% support games in empty venues, which seems to be very much under consideration.

The emotional place

How important are sports to people? The survey said 62% would be "somewhat or very likely to watch sports on TV if they came back now," while "39 percent said they missed sports more than they expected.

Yesterday's Times offered Can Sports Help Heal a Country? Some Fans Don’t Buy the Emotional Pleas, starting with a New York baseball fan working at food rescue nonprofit saying “We need other things to be healed, if you want to call it that, before we get to baseball."

That's understandable, though presumably fans from elsewhere may have a different perspective. Some responses:

In The Sound of One Fan Clapping, Emmett Hare wrote 5/1/20 in City Journal, speculating on the weirdness of professional sports staged for television:
One revealing aspect of the Covid-19 crisis is the relative ease with which the public has adjusted to life without sports, given their prominence before the pandemic. There have been attempts to fill the void with broadcasts of e-sports and celebrity video game tournaments, but these haven’t captured wide attention.
The question of "relative ease" is still pending. We've seen newspapers cut their sports sections, furlough and/or lay off sports reporters, and redeploy others to cover the coronavirus crisis. There's far less sports content, even though there's an inexhaustible supply of interesting-enough content, in the media.

But there's been a huge amount of attention, for example, to ESPN's 10-part documentary The Last Dance, about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

How essential?

In a 4/28/20 Q&A with the New York Times, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force (and a former high school point guard), contained this exchange:
Sports, in the end, are entertainment. How far down the line should they be in the country’s reopening? Do more essential businesses need to come first? 
I don’t think it’s either or. I think, clearly, essentially services are a high priority. No doubt about it. You don’t want the economy to completely crumble. But sports are important also for the well-being and the mental health of the country. So I don’t think you can say, “You go before I.” I think you can do some things simultaneously and you can do prioritizing some ahead of the other.
So, have we adjusted or are "sports are important also for the well-being and the mental health of the country"? Maybe something of both. Note that FiveThirtyEight reported a partisan divide, with a 20-point difference between Republicans and Democrats, with the latter far more cautious about reopening.

Starting without fans?

Two days ago, the New York Post reported Horse and car racing to resume in New York in June — without fans. That means that tracks like Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens will reopen for televised races (and gambling?).

“If you can have economic activity without a crowd, that’s great," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, noting the possibility of baseball without fans, as well. “When you look at the risk-reward, there is a lot of reward for minimal risk,” Cuomo said,

One outspoken player, the Washington Nationals' Sean Doolittle, begs to differ:


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