Sports fans will not be returning to games until a vaccine is released

As Americans have been starved for sports due to the coronavirus outbreak, many fans are likely to not be interested in attending games until a vaccine becomes available, according to a new poll.

With all major sports suspending play in March, a Seton Hall Sports Poll found that three-quarters of Americans will not go to games until a coronavirus vaccine is found. Even more than half of sports fans – 61% — said they did not feel comfortable attending games until a vaccine is released, which medical experts said could come sometime in 2021.

The poll, which tallied responses from more than 750 Americans, was conducted in conjunction with the Sharkey Institute at the Stillman School of Business.

“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, said in a press release. “Those who identify as sports fans, at all levels of interest, line up closely with the general population in regard to their own safety and that of the players.”

While attending games remains a ways away, more than three-fourths said they’d watch games in empty stadiums from their homes. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would watch broadcasts of games even without fans present. However, 16% said they had less interest and 7% sad they would be more interested, according to the study.

As it stands, it remains unclear when sports will return to the field. MLB recently introduced an idea to have teams play in Arizona and Florida, according to USA Today. That plan would see MLB’s 30 teams split between the two states, where spring training facilities are much closer and would require league realignment were it to actually happen. They have also discussed playing a shortened season with no fans present at stadiums.

The NBA, which started the wave of cancellations after several players tested positive for coronavirus, has no set date on when it plans to return to action. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said no decision will be made in April, but a Players Association memo that circulated said more time is needed to evaluate options for the season, according to the New York Post.