Poll: Sports fans miss matches, live TV games shut down by COVID-19

Daniel J. Munoz//June 10, 2020//

Poll: Sports fans miss matches, live TV games shut down by COVID-19

Daniel J. Munoz//June 10, 2020//

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Americans love pro-sports, and they love watching sports.

And a Wednesday poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute shows just how hungry they are for the spectator events, as the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down seasons across the board—from basketball to baseball.

According to the poll, roughly a third of Americans – 32 percent – said they missed sports “a lot,” namely the ability to watch live sporting events.

Another 26 percent of Americans said they miss it a little, and 42 percent said they did not miss it at all, according to the poll, which interviewed 807 adults in the United States between May 28 and June 1. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Patrick Murray, director, Monmouth University Polling Institute

“Sports are woven into the fabric of America. The suspension of pro sports did not just rob fans of their favorite pastimes, but it also disrupted the rhythm of life for the entire country,” Pat Murray, the institute’s director, said in the Wednesday report.

As the pandemic slows down across the state, many of the professional teams within New Jersey have plans to resume in-person practice or matches. But those matches would be at empty stadiums that are used to serving tens of thousands of patrons.

The New York Giants and New York Jets pro-football teams both call the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford their home, which can pack in nearly 83,000 fans. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils, a professional ice hockey team, calls Prudential Center in Newark its home. The Philadelphia 76ers, a basketball team based on the other side of the Delaware River, has a practice facility in Camden. Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls are based in Harrison.

Twenty-five percent of Americans said they missed baseball, and another 19 percent said they miss basketball the most.

Fourteen percent said they missed professional football, even though the National Football League season was inactive during the pandemic and won’t start up until the end of the summer.

Its future largely depends on whether the virus rebounds by then, and the comfort levels of teams to train and compete in person.

The National Basketball Association’s season was put off until July 31. Major League Soccer resumes July 8, and Major League Baseball will resume at some point this year.

Leading up to the pandemic, sports had been a lucrative market in the state, especially for New Jersey’s two-year-old sports betting market.

For over a year, New Jersey’s sports betting market was shattering records month over month, even eclipsing how much was wagered at longer-established Las Vegas casinos. In December 2019, patrons bet $557 million at the state’s online and in-person sports handles, $4.5 billion for the entire year, according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement, which oversees the state’s gambling industry.

But the most recent DGE data shows that in April, patrons only bet $55 million online. With casinos and racetracks closed and not accepting in-person bets, brick and mortar sports wagering establishments made $0 in April.

“Although it may be some time until sports resume with live audiences, if Major League Baseball plays this summer, even to empty stadiums, it will give sports bettors something on which to wager,” Jane Bokunewicz, who heads Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism, said in a statement from May.