The past calendar year has been quite the ride for sports fans.
From the moment Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 way back in March and the NBA pulled the plug, the world as we knew it has changed and the sporting world was quickly forced to get creative.
Fans were asked to adapt in many ways, too, and everything from how sports were consumed in person — in most cases, they weren’t — to expectations for favourite teams shifting under unique circumstances all changed in an instant.
With all of that in mind, 2020 brought some interesting questions to the forefront, leading to the birth of the first-ever TSN 1050 Toronto Sports Survey.
Over the past two weeks, an impressive 1,653 of you took the time to answer 54 in-depth questions pertaining to all of Toronto’s sports franchise — Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, Argonauts and TFC.
In some cases, the answers were obvious, many were telling, and all of them shed light on how Toronto sports fans feel about the state of their favourite teams in the middle of a pandemic.
Today we start to reveal the results, starting with a baker’s dozen of general questions about the five Toronto sports franchises, the men who lead them, and how being in lockdown has affected your sports viewing.
1—Who’s your favourite Toronto sports team?
No surprise here. Despite the more recent success of other franchises, Toronto is still a hockey city first and foremost. The Raptors’ recent title run has them in second spot, but silver and bronze in this category may flip flop depending on the competitive windows. —Scott Mitchell
I am wholly unsurprised that the Leafs took top billing. While so much has changed over this past year, the always-passionate conversation/debate/discussion about and around Toronto's hockey team has barely missed a beat. Now if only they could match the Raptors' title success… —Kristen Shilton
2—Since the pandemic began, what’s your interest in sports been like?
Same as ever—50%
Not quite as much—28%
More than ever—19%
I’ve lost all interest—3%
With fans starving for live sports back in April and May, it probably doesn’t come as a shock that 69% of people either stayed status quo with their viewing or watched even more. Other than the lack of fans, the familiarity of live sports in the second half of 2020 was as normal as it got. —Scott Mitchell
It seemed harder early in the spring for fans to really engage with sports, but as time ticked forward you could feel the interest level rising again. I think some people have been turned off by how the pandemic is impacting sports teams (players missing time, less competitive games, etc), but it's also proven to be the outlet we'd all missed. —Kristen Shilton
3—How do you feel about watching sports without fans?
I haven’t noticed any difference—21%
I find it hard to care—14%
No disagreement here — whether in person or on TV, sports without the atmosphere provided by fans is completely weird and I’m still not used to it. Watching great athletes do their thing is fun and all, but fans are what gives sport its passion. —Scott Mitchell
Can't argue with the majority on this one! Sports without fans is strange. Being inside arenas without fans is even stranger, no matter how much loud music and fake crowd noise they pump in there. There is simply no substitute for the atmosphere fans bring. —Kristen Shilton
4—Which sport have you watched more of in 2020 than you ever have before?
Personally, I’m surprised this one isn’t basketball or hockey in a runaway considering the all-day affairs we had in the bubbles, but the NFL does rule the world. A November Masters was fun, too. —Scott Mitchell
I really thought golf would be higher. It felt like there was so much of it on this year when nothing else was happening, and I certainly have never spent so many weekends on my couch watching tournaments. But really, with no hockey or basketball for much of the fall, football reigned supreme for sports-starved fans. —Kristen Shilton
5—When will you feel comfortable attending a live sporting event?
Ask me again in 2022—40%
As soon as the vaccine is available—31%
As soon as I’m allowed—29%
About the split you’d expect. How people view COVID-19 obviously plays a role, as does the importance of sports in one’s lives. Most fans are taking a wait-and-see approach right now, but that might change when tickets go on sale. —Scott Mitchell
I thought the percentage regarding vaccination would be higher, all things considered. But it's so hard to predict anything right now. My sense has been fans don't want to get their hopes up about going back to games and being disappointed, which is totally understandable. —Kristen Shilton
6—How do you think Toronto FC will do this year?
Entering a transition year—77%
7—What does Greg Vanney’s departure mean for TFC?
The team won’t be the same—32%
A chance for a fresh start—26%
Shouldn’t make a difference—12%
8—How confident are you that there will be a CFL season this year?
Not confident at all—36%
9—Do you trust the future of the Argonauts under the direction of Pinball Clemons?
10—Which athlete is the face of Toronto sports right now?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.—3%
Like I said when the Leafs were crowned the most popular team in the city in question No. 1, no surprise here because it’s a hockey city. The only thing I wonder is would Kawhi Leonard have beaten out AM34 if this survey was done in July of 2019? —Scott Mitchell
11—Focusing on the Big 3, which team’s front office gives you the most confidence?
Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri—61%
Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan—26%
Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro—12%
Slowly but surely, Atkins and Shapiro have been helping their image by developing a young and exciting team that made an expanded post-season dance last year. They’re on the right track, but patience is still a virtue. —Scott Mitchell
12—Which young duo do you have the most faith in to succeed?
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner—59%
Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.—30%
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet—11%
A lot of Blue Jays fans might want to replace Vladdy Jr. in this question with Nate Pearson because pitching is going to be the separator between this rebuild working and the Jays spending another decade as a .500 team. —Scott Mitchell
13—Who do you most want to win a championship in 2021?
The 18% that took the Jays should know they’re currently being given about a 40/1 shot by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the World Series, which is about middle of the pack. In other words, odds are against it. —Scott Mitchell