Well, when you have a poll run over the course of a week, sometimes circumstances change during the time the poll is open to drastically change its nature. This is one of those times.
When the week began, the threat of coronavirus was something people attending sporting events had to consider, but wasn’t preventing any events from taking place. Therefore this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers if they had changed or were planning on changing their sports attendance habits out of concerns regarding coronavirus.
Beginning Wednesday morning the fans had that decision taken out of their hands. But first, here’s the poll results:
POLL: Has the coronavirus affected your attendance at sporting events? Full context here: https://t.co/7tBMCZkoRt
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) March 9, 2020
Add the two together and almost exactly two-thirds of responders — 67% — said the corona virus had no effect on their sports attendance. Of the 33% who responded otherwise, 18 percent said they chose or would choose not to attend an event, while 15 percent said they considered not attending, but went anyway.
So the majority of sports fans were undeterred by the threat of coronavirus before Wednesday morning happened.
On Wednesday morning Washington Governor Jay Inslee instituted a ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties through at least the end of March. That put a halt on most sporting events.
The response was swift from local teams, with the Seattle Mariners announcing they were going to figure out alternate arrangements for their season opener scheduled for March 26 at T-Mobile Park, while Seattle Sounders FC postponed its home game against FC Dallas scheduled for March 21 at CenturyLink Field. The XFL’s Seattle Dragons announced they were going ahead with their home game against the LA Wildcats on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, but with out fans in the stands, and the University of Washington announced it was doing the same with its home softball games against the U.S. Olympic team on Thursday and its Pac-12 opening series against Utah over the weekend. Snohomish County’s biggest team, the Everett Silvertips, also said they would play home games without fans.
For the record, pretty much all the poll votes were made on Monday and Tuesday, prior to the Governor’s announcement, so the results weren’t skewed by people voting after knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to attend games.
And in the 24 hours since Inslee’s announcement the sports world has shut down even further. The NBA suspended its season indefinitely Wednesday night immediately after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Reports Thursday morning said the NHL is following suit, also suspending its season, while MLS has suspended its season for 30 days. NCAA basketball conference tournaments are being canceled. The UW softball game against the U.S. Olympic team was canceled and all Pac-12 sports have been suspended.
As of now Sunday’s XFL game was still set to take place. Friday night’s WHL games were still set to take place, but the league’s board of governors was meeting to evaluate the next steps.
We’re in uncharted territory here in the sports world. All I can say is, “Stay safe out there.”