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  • Writer's pictureOli Shawyer

Don't panic. Breathe.

My social and email feeds have recently been inundated with articles covering the concern that sport leagues and clubs should have because of current fan and spectator sentiment towards the idea of returning to watching live sport, in-venue.

Here are a few citing the same poll alone...

  • ESPN Australia - sports fans won't attend games without coronavirus vaccine.

  • CBS Sports - sports fans want coronavirus vaccine before attending live games again.

  • Huffington Post - most sports fans won't attend games without coronavirus vaccine.

At the same time, a lot of my network have been on the case, with lots of commentary filling my scrolls on LinkedIn and Twitter. And lots have presented some particularly good work, including the team over at Gemba who produced a really solid piece of work exploring the same issue. Check out their report here.

But, everyone just needs to take a minute, slow-down and breathe.

Before I go on, I need to say that I'm no more an expert on any of this than any of those that have already looked into it. A lot of the people that have I respect greatly. And the reality is that what I'm putting forward is my opinion... only an opinion. But (of course I'm bias), I think it may be worth listening to if you work in sports and are freaking out about what's to come when we can actually deliver live sport in-person again.

At the moment it's all doom and gloom because there is a potential reality that all those people that used to fill up our stadiums and arenas are not going to be there in the near future. Going by all the articles and commentary, at least not until there is a vaccine (which could take 12-18 months).

I'm a huge fan of research and asking questions to get insights, but the reality is that there are a few things that are probably impacting the answers to these polls and surveys asking about returning to live sport. My guess is that the figures are overstated and I think it is worth everyone taking stock of the following reasons to why, if anything just to reduce some of the panic and fear, and restore some of your focus (where it's likely need to hit restart):

  1. It's about our future selves. We're asking people to suggest what their future selves would do... but we're all pretty useless at predicting our future behaviour and rarely, if ever get it right. There are years upon decades upon centuries of proof and lessons of that, and there is no doubt you can call on many of your own.

  2. It's important we're seen as good people. Most people answer questions with intent to show their best selves, and because people want to be seen as being socially responsible in the current context, it's very likely that they may be 'exaggerating'. I mean after all, we're having it impressed on us through authorities (lots of messaging as well as fines) and social circles on a daily basis, so any thoughts that aren't aligned with our actual current behviour can cause somewhat of a dissonance inside (a feeling if you will).

  3. We're all sheep. There will be people that do come straight back, and the reality is that when we see all these people coming back ourselves, we'll follow the lead. We look to others like us for cues to what is appropriate, and as soon as people do sit inside those stadiums and arenas, more will come week by week.

I'm not saying there won't be an immediate problem. I'm not saying it's not an important problem. I'm not saying there won't be change at all (albeit I believe that if anything actually changes, it'll be something that was in line with a trend of change rather than because of COVID-19). I'm just saying that we are an irrationally predictable species and it's likely that it won't be as bad as what's being suggested currently.

Try not to let too much of today's context impact decisions for tomorrow.


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