At first blush, it might seem as though the Big Ten college football conference’s decision to move forward with its 2020 season after all could backfire, from a public opinion point of view.
After all, just 38% of the 2,659 U.S. adults that CivicScience surveyed about the issue said they agree with the decision to resume play this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-three percent of all U.S. adults disagree with the plan, and another 20% are neutral.
But when it comes to those who follow NCAA football, the script is flipped: 44% of college football fans say they agree with the Big Ten’s decision, compared with 37% who disagree and another 19% who are neutral.
The likely explanation is that college football fans in general lean to the political right. In fact, 37% of those who say they follow NCAA football “very closely” or “somewhat closely” lean conservative, compared with just 19% who lean liberal; the rest are moderate.
One interesting caveat: even solely among NCAA football fans, age is a huge factor when it comes to support. It’s no surprise that college-age football fans are massively in favor. However, the relative lack of support for this plan from college football fans age 55 and older is perhaps a bit unexpected.
While it’s clear that not everyone is completely on board, it seems there’s enough support from younger and middle-aged fans to push this decision into positive territory among the Big Ten’s target audience.