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ESPN: Fans Looking Forward to Empty-Stadium Games

A poll of sports fans conducted by ESPN finds that most would welcome watching games, even if there were no spectators in the stadium.

In the survey 65% of fans said they would prefer to watch sporting events without crowds compared to 35% who would prefer to watch till games can take place with fans in the stands.

The percentage rises to 76% who support the return of sports in empty venues if players were kept quarantined in hotels and their contact with others was closely monitored.

Among those identified as avid sports fans, 88% said they can’t wait till live sports are back on TV. They plan to watch as much as they can when games come back. And 85% of those avid sports fans see sports as a great way to feed normal again during the pandemic.

With “normal” fans, 56% said they can’t wait till sports are back on TV, with 67% saying sports would make them feel more normal.

“Sports serve as an escape and provide joy in the current times, as evidenced by record-breaking audiences for ‘The Last Dance’ and NFL Draft. That deep need for sports was expressed by both avid and casual fans, with an eagerness for live sports to return in some way on TV even without fans in attendance.” said Cary Meyers, senior VP, ESPN Research & Insights.

Among those avid fans, 90% said they miss having live games on TV. Not having sports had 78% of avid fans expressing sorrow over it. Even among regular fans, 56% said they missed having games and it made 53% feel bad.

ESPN Research & Insight’s report is based on a nationwide survey of 1,004 sports fans ages 18+ conducted April 17-20,