With the NBA and MLB shaping up to resume play, sportsbook operator DraftKings has conducted a national study of 1,000 self-identified sports fans. The aim of the exercise is to better understand the future of sports fandom as the world and, more specifically, the US continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The findings, available to download here, offer a useful insight on the current state of the American sports fan. The headline figures in the study show that 56% reported taking developments around COVID-19 more seriously following league cancellations, while one in every four fans began following a new sport as a result of league cancellations, with eSports as the most popular newly followed sport.

A significant 78% said they would be willing to sacrifice traditional aspects of sports if it means a return to play for major leagues, and NBA stands as the live sport fans are most looking forward to, followed by MLB opening day. One in every five fans admitted they do not plan to be in-stadium again until a cure for the virus is identified.

While 66% of respondents think it’s important for live sports to return between now and September, 39% of respondents think that live sports are coming back too soon. Minus 34% think they’re coming back at just the right time and minus 11% think they’re coming back too late. 

Where respondents were relatively divided was on the subject of when they would feel comfortable attending a sporting event in person again post COVID-19. The majority said within four to six months (24%), followed by not wanting to attend a sports event until there’s a cure for COVID-19 (20%).  

Concerns about the prospect of attending a live sporting event again were primarily about maintaining distance. Respondents are most worried about the inability to keep six feet between themselves and other fans and other fans not following protocol, such as wearing a mask.