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GSI Releases National Snapshot Poll

Public Opinion On Sport

Throughout the U.S. youth sports are making a comeback, Power 5 Conferences are readying for a return to football, and MLB teams are heading towards the World Series. Across all of these events a U.S. presidential election looms and the impacts of the pandemic and calls for racial justice continue.

Read our exclusive with TIME Magazine: President Trump Bet on College Football to Help Win Key Swing States. A New Poll Shows Fans Aren’t Buying It.

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President Trump’s Statement He ‘Brought Back’ Big Ten Football Does Not Move the Needle*

  • A majority (53%) of registered voters in key battleground states across the country say that President Trump’s statement that he is responsible for bringing back Big Ten college football has no effect on whom they will support in the presidential race.
  • This appears to throw cold water on the president’s attempt to shore up his position in states where he needs to do well on November 3rd. Even among voters whose decisions were affected by this information, the president is not faring particularly well.
    • Two in ten voters said they were more likely to support the president after hearing his statement regarding the Big Ten, while slightly more than a quarter were made less likely to vote for him.
  • Even though he convinces a small portion of voters with his statement, those whose opinions were affected appear to believe the president. 7% of those who said that Trump’s statement made them more likely to vote for him reversed their support after learning that members of Big Ten have not credited the return of football to the president’s actions.

Among Undecided Voters in Big Ten States, Trump’s Statement Has Minimal Effects*

  • President Trump’s statement does not appear to be working any better at luring voters who are still on the fence to support him over the former Vice President. One in ten undecided college football fans is more likely to support Trump after hearing his statement.
  • The message is not resonating well with voters in the Midwest. 10% of football fans living in battleground ‘Big Ten’ states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) say they are more likely to support Trump based on his statement.

People are Concerned About the Restart of College Football*

  • 79% of undecided college football fans are moderate, somewhat or extremely concerned.

Fandom of Big 10 Football Strongly Played Into Agreement on the Decision to Bring Football Back*

  • 54% of undecided college football fans who are Big 10 football fans somewhat or strongly agree with the decision to allow football to return in October. 41% of non Big 10 football fans somewhat or strongly agree.

Undecided Republican and Democratic Voter Views Align*

  • Along party lines, 53% of the undecided Republican votes and 55% of the undecided Democratic voters who are Big 10 football fans somewhat or strongly agree with the decision to allow football to return in October, while 47% percent of the undecided Independent voters somewhat or strongly agree.

Football Fans are Generally Neutral on the Statement “It is appropriate for elected officials to get involved in the nationwide start/stoppage of sporting events.”*

  • Big 10 football fans – 42% neither agree nor disagree
  • Independents – 41% neither agree nor disagree
  • Democrats – 47% neither agree nor disagree

Republicans Don’t Want Government Involvement*

  • Republicans– 42% somewhat or strongly disagree

*The Global Sport Institute National Snapshot Poll was conducted by OH Predictive Insights (OHPI), a non-partisan public opinion research company, as an online opt-in panel survey from October 14th to October 21st, 2020 from a sample of 400 Registered Voters living in the battleground states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina, with a MoE of ± 4.9%. This survey oversampled an additional 400 respondents who self-identified as college football fans and undecided registered voters in the Presidential race, with a MoE of ± 4.9%. Numbers may not equal 100% due to rounding. The Global Sport Institute is a cross-disciplinary research, knowledge and outreach enterprise located at Arizona State University.

College Sport: Comfort After Learning About Daily Testing of College Athletes

Q: One of the Power 5 college-sports conferences earlier this month announced a testing research initiative with a health care company that will give its schools access to daily rapid-results COVID-19 testing. How does knowing this information influence your opinion regarding restarting college football? (n=1800 nationally, 300 per region)

The majority feel more comfortable if schools have access to daily rapid-results COVID-19 testing; specifically among males, those under 44 years old, Hispanics, and African Americans.

Total More Comfortable Total Less Comfortable Margin
Male 57% 8% +49%
Female 45% 13% +32%
Under 44 60% 10% +50%
Over 45 41% 11% +30%
White 46% 9% +36%
Hispanic 59% 13% +46%
African American 68% 11% +57%
Southern Region 57% 11% +48%
Plains Region 57% 11% +46%
Western Region 47% 10% +37%
Atlantic Region 45% 11% +34%

College Sport: Opinion of Extending College Eligibility

Q: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student athletes have been provided with one more year of college playing eligibility than they normally would be allowed.  Do you agree or disagree with this ruling? (n=1800 nationally, 300 per region)

A majority agrees with the ruling for college student athletes to have one more year of college playing eligibility. 1 in 3 have no opinion on the policy and 6% say they disagree.

Total Agree Total Disagree Margin
Non-College Educated 56% 7% +49%
College Educated 68% 5% +63%
White 62% 7% +55%
Hispanic 63% 7% +56%
African American 69% 3% +66%
HHI Under $50k 55% 7% +48%
HHI $50k to $100k 63% 6% +57%
HHI over $100k 70% 5% +66%
Southern Region 68% 5% +63%
Great Lakes Region 59% 6% +53%

Youth Sport: Participation

Q: Does your child/children typically participate in youth sports? (n=586)

2 in 3 children have participated in youth sports.

Q: In which sport(s) does your child/children routinely participate?

Basketball (35%), soccer (35%), and football (32%) are the top 3 youth sports. 1 in 5 children participate in baseball/softball and swimming in youth sports. Western and Atlantic regions are the only regions swimming in one of their top 3 youth sports.


Youth Sport: Parents Are More Concerned About Youth Sports During the Pandemic

Q: As youth sports begin to restart, have your personal benchmarks for allowing your child/children to participate (for example, masks, social distancing, release of a vaccine) changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak? (n=586)

Parents are concerned about allowing children to return to sports. Most concerned are Liberals, Fathers, African Americans, and College Educated Parents.

Professional Sport: Americans Are Most Comfortable Attending Football Games

Q: If you had to attend a professional sporting event live, in-person, right now, given the period of uncertainty around COVID-19, which of the following sports would you feel most comfortable attending? (n=300 per region)

In all regions except the Southern United States, the traditionally outdoor sports of football and baseball are the top 2 sports people would feel most comfortable attending.

Professional Sport: Americans Split On Attending the World Series

Q: Which of the following is closest to your opinion regarding attendance at the Major League Baseball’s World Series or a similar, high-level sporting event for which you had interest?

Overall, Americans are split 49% – 51% on whether they would go to a high-level sporting event. Willingness to attend is highest in the Southern, the Plains, and the Pacific regions. Willingness to attend is lowest in the Great Lakes, Western, and Atlantic regions.

Desire to attend a ‘High Level Sporting Event,’ like the World Series decreases with age. Almost two-thirds of respondents aged 18-34 would attend if given a ticket, whereas one-third of those 65 and older would do the same.

There is also a sharp divide in desired attendance among men and women. While 58% of women would not attend such a sporting event, less than half of men agree. Republicans are more likely to want to attend than Democrats.

Professional Sport: African Americans More Likely to Support a Team with a Black Quarterback, Whites More Likely to Say Race Has No Affect

Q: As the NFL season gets underway, how would learning that your team was going to start an African American quarterback affect your support for the team? (n=1800)

Whites don’t say that they are less likely to support a team with a Black quarterback but they also are not more likely to do so.

Older respondents are more likely to say that race does not have an effect on their support for a team. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to support a team with a Black quarterback. Fewer older Americans say they are more likely to support a team with a Black quarterback.

Professional Sport: Young People and African Americans Are More Willing to Believe Race Was an Advantage for Steve Nash

Q: Recently, Steve Nash was hired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Some have criticized the Nets for hiring Nash, a white former NBA player with no coaching experience, at a time when there are very few African American head coaches in the NBA. However, defenders of Nash say that his 18 seasons playing in the NBA gives him enough experience to coach a team. Which of the following do you agree with most? (n=1800)

Like the question regarding the Black quarterback, younger and non-White Americans are more likely to say that race was an advantage. Older and White respondents were more likely to say that race did not play a role.

Demographic “Race Did NOT Play a Role”
Total 51%
65+ 71%
55-64 67%
45-54 57%
35-44 35%
18-34 33%
White 58%
Other 46%
Hispanic 35%
African American 32%
Pro Basketball Fan 49%
Not Pro Basketball Fan 55%

‘Professional Basketball Fans’ are defined as any respondent who included ‘Professional Basketball’ in their top 3 favorite sports. ‘Non Professional Basketball Fans’ did not include ‘Professional Basketball’ in their top 3 favorite sports.

Download the full results of the poll: