Schwartz: Some Fans Are Ready To Return

If things were normal, we would be enjoying the NBA and NHL playoffs right now as well as the baseball season and other sports like soccer and lacrosse.  But we are currently living in a world where things are not normal because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The good news is that the numbers are going in the right direction and many states are either going through the re-opening process or planning to do so.

Here in New York, it’s probably going to take a little longer than other states but the entire reopening situation is certainly a topic that is bigger than sports.

But what if sports were to come back right now?  Would you go to a game if there were limited fans, you had to wear a mask, and social distancing protocols were in place?  This is a question that I posed on social media this week and the results of the poll are fascinating.

326 people voted in the poll and it’s clear to me that there are many fans that would flock to stadiums and arenas right now but there are also a good number of people that want to stay away.  Here’s the breakdown of the voting…

38 percent of the people would go to a game right now.

29 percent would not go to a game right now.

17 percent say they would not go now but soon.

And 16 percent say “see you in 2020”.

I also posed the question to my Facebook friends and 26 out of 40 responses were that fans would go to a game either right away or sometime soon.

If you dive into the Twitter poll results, a combined 55 percent of the people who voted would either go through the turnstiles right now or soon which would put us in line with the speculation that baseball could start it’s season around the Fourth of July and that the NBA and NHL could soon resume and complete their seasons with no fans or limited fans.

What does it all mean?

It means that there is an appetite for sports fans to get to a game.  It’s been a long time since there were games to go to and to make this a little more personal, my sons would be playing sports themselves now and we’re really missing that.  But it certainly sounds like fans would be ready to go to a game if they were allowed to.

How would it work?

I still think we’re a long way away from putting 40,000 people in CitiFIeld or Yankee Stadium, 80,000 people in MetLife Stadium, 18,000 in Madison Square Garden, or even 6,000 people at a minor league baseball stadium.  But what if the attendance was limited, everyone wore a mask, there was social distancing, and concession/team store orders and sales were as contactless as possible?

If I can order something from Target and show up in the parking lot to pick it up, why can’t I order a hat, jersey or other souvenir from the team store and either pick it up or have it delivered to my seat?

If I can go shopping at a supermarket while adhering to all of the guidelines and still being around people, why can’t they let some fans into a sporting event?

If I can order take out from a restaurant, why can’t a I order food at the ballpark and either pick it up or have it delivered?

Hey look, I don’t think this is happening tomorrow, but I’m probably one of many in the New York area and even around the country that would buy a ticket in a heartbeat if that chance was there.  I know this is a serious virus but we also have to back to work, back to life, and get to whatever this new normal is going to be.

Part of that new normal involves sports and that’s not going to happen until the medical experts and local/national leaders allow it to happen.  It seems like we’re heading in the right direction and my feeling is that there are enough fans ready for this to happen.  Not all fans are ready for it and that will make it easier to limit the fans.

This is just my opinion but…

 Let’s play ball.

 Let’s drop the puck.

 Let’s have the opening tip-off.

 Let’s kick off in the fall.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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