A new ESPN survey found that 65% of sports fans were in favor of sports returning even without fans in the stands.
You know what my survey says? Duh. Because if safety concerns were somehow alleviated, I’d imagine that number has to be close to 100%. And in fact, the aforementioned study did reference the number grew to 76% when participants were asked if they supported the return of sports with no fans if players were in a central location and contact with others was monitored. A scenario it seems the NBA, MLB and NHL are all at least considering.
And let’s just be honest, how important are fans really? I mean they are an added part of the experience for sure, I’ve been one after all, but I’m certainly not egotistical enough to believe spectators are more than say the seasoning on food. There's also no doubt they can be a boost to performance.
Still, there’s a reason fans are called the 12th man and not the quarterback. I don’t see anyone buying their jerseys, video games, trading cards or endlessly arguing who is more supportive: Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee?
Heck, we were already talking about attendance issues before all this went down with the television product being so good. So, of course I’ll take empty arenas if it can replace the empty feeling of no sports. You gotta be on crackerjacks to be against that...if it can be done safely.
That’s a wave I’d follow for sure. As I'd bet most fans would be just fine cheering from home.