In the back corner, on the fifth floor of Jubilee Hall sits Seton Hall’s Sports Poll, a calling center dedicated to covering issues and controversies in sports. According to the poll’s website, it is the first and only active cold-calling service about sports.
“The feeling was that there was no national sports poll [or no] scientific sports poll that measured people’s feeling on important issues revolving around sports,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Sports Poll.
All polls have a student footprint, with students involved in forming the questions and conducting interviews. The questions asked in the polls focus on current topics in sports and sometimes focus on sensitive political issues, with the latest poll no different in that regard.
In its most recent poll, it was revealed that by a 42 to 47 percent margin, Americans believe that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should have ordered players to stand for the pre-game playing of the national anthem. Gentile said when considering the 3.7 percent margin of error, these results are almost dead even.
“Any way you ask that question you’re going to get kind of a 50-50 response,” he said. “This one is an issue that people feel very strongly about, very deeply about on both sides.”
Farzad Kohzad, a graduate assistant with the Sports Poll, said these results “[show] the even divide that there is in this country” surrounding this topic. “If it was a wide margin then you wouldn’t see such a large backlash going on.”
Another issue in football, and one that Americans are not as divided on, is whether medical personnel should advise parents about football’s dangers before they sign their children up. Results from that question found that 82 percent believe they should be informed prior.
Regardless of safety precautions implemented in the NFL, Gentile notes that severe brain injuries are still a plague.
“It’s evidence that it’s taking place from youth football on up,” Gentile said.
Another topic the poll addressed was concerned with baseball, specifically relating to length of game.
The poll showed that 45 percent of baseball fans occasionally watch the entirety of a postseason baseball game, while 17 percent said they never watch at all.
Freshman Dalton Allison does not attribute the low viewership among fans to the game’s length, but rather to its start time.
“If you’re a Dodgers fan living in New Jersey and it’s the NLDS, they’re going to start the game at 10 o’clock at night and if you have to get up and go to work the next day, you are going to be sleeping when that game starts,” Allison said.
Kohzad said this result did not surprise him, as he explained how even though basketball and football games take about the same amount of time as baseball games, his belief is that basketball and football have more action.
Even after a historic Game 5 of this year’s World Series that included a back-and-forth battle of home runs on Oct. 29, eventually resulting in a 10th-inning Astros win, Gentile said he does not believe this game could be the catalyst to spark more interest in the postseason since, in his opinion, the game takes too long and ends too late.
The poll asked callers if they were in favor of a rule to limit pitching changes in order to increase the game’s pace, and 57 percent answered no, while an almost even 40 to 43 percent margin said they favored limiting pitching changes.
“I think the end goal is to get games to be played in less than three hours and I don’t know how much they can do about it honestly,” Gentile said.
As more issues in sports arise in the next month, Gentile has the chance to address them with compelling findings and talking points in the next poll, which will be held on Nov. 27.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.