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With sports at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans offered mixed opinions in a recent poll when asked whether the NFL season should start on time, with a little less than half of respondents indicating it should not.

By a 46% to 36% margin, those polled do not think the NFL should open the season on time, with 18% having no opinion. The poll, which had a sample size of 762 respondents, was released Monday morning by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.6%.

A wider margin — 77% to 20% — expressed support for delaying the start of football season in the event college and NFL players would not have sufficient time to get in shape as compared to years past.

The 2020 NFL season is scheduled to kick off on Thursday, Sept. 10, in Kansas City, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

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The NFL has delayed the start of its offseason workout program while it formulates a plan with the NFL Players Association on how to proceed during the coronavirus pandemic. Normally, April 6 would have signaled the start of the nine-week offseason workout program for the five NFL teams with new head coaches. For all other clubs, offseason team activities would have started on April 20.

The league is discussing possible revisions to the offseason workout program that would permit teams to conduct classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs on a virtual basis while team facilities remain closed to comply with social distancing standards. In the meantime, teams may provide players with playbooks and video on iPads, Microsoft Surface tablets or other similar units for voluntary use by the player away from the team facility. The video may include coaching or instructional voice-overs or audio content; superimposed diagrams; schematics; or written commentary.

College football has not set a date to return to practice.

Among those polled, 62% said they believe the sports world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in government officials beginning to take the virus more seriously, with 30% indicating sports leagues halting their seasons did not influence government action, and 8% unsure.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, with the NHL following suit shortly thereafter. Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its season indefinitely.

Of those polled, 37% said they follow sports “closely,” 17% “very closely,” 26% “not closely,” and 20% “not at all.”


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