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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Mixed Opinion on Baseball Steroid Scandal

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

American public supports most sanctions except lifetime playing ban

West Long Branch, NJ  - According to the latest national Monmouth University Poll , few Americans think that new testing and penalties imposed eight years ago have had much impact on reducing steroid use in professional baseball.  The public supports a wide range of sanctions for repeat offenders in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal, but a lifetime playing ban is not among them.

More than 8-in-10 Americans are aware of the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs by professional baseball players, including 55% who have heard a lot about this and 31% who have heard a little.  Among this aware group, only 40% say that expanded testing and increased penalties by Major League Baseball in 2005 have been effective.  Another 49% say they have not been effective in reducing steroid use among players.

Only 31% of those following the news believe that steroid use has gone down since new screening procedures and sanctions were put in place eight years ago.  Another 40% say steroid use is about the same as it was and 18% say that steroid use has actually increased despite MLB's efforts.  Those who watch baseball at least weekly are the most likely to say that steroid use has gone down - about half (49%) hold this opinion.  Only 30% of occasional baseball viewers and 24% of adults who are not fans of baseball say the same.

"There is some concern that a continuing scandal could erode the national pastime's fan base despite Major League Baseball's best efforts," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Nearly 8-in-10 Americans aware of the steroid news say MLB is taking this issue seriously, although more say it is taking it just somewhat seriously (45%) rather than very seriously (34%).  Another 12% say the league is treating the issue not too seriously and 4% say it is not at all serious about the problem.  Frequent game viewers (49%) and occasional viewers (40%) are more likely than non-fans (25%) to say that the league takes the steroid issue very seriously.

Overall, a majority of Americans currently hold a positive view of Major League Baseball, including 25% with a strongly favorable opinion and 28% with a somewhat favorable opinion.  Fewer than 1-in-4 hold a negative view - 13% somewhat unfavorable and 9% strongly unfavorable.  Another 25% have no opinion.  Among those who have heard a lot about the steroid issue, 58% have a positive view of professional baseball and 24% have a negative view.

On the other hand, if players on their favorite team were found to have used steroids, 28% of adults say they would watch that team less often than they do now.  Most (65%) would continue to watch the same number of games as they do now.  Another 2% actually say they would be inclined to watch more games if a steroid scandal hit their favorite team.

The Monmouth University Poll also asked about public support of six possible sanctions for repeat steroid users - that is baseball players who have been found to use steroids more than once.  Fully 3-in-4 (75%) support banning the offender from playing for an entire season.  Seven-in-ten also say that fining the player a full season's salary (70%) or imposing a shorter ban of 50 games (69%) would be appropriate.  Just over 6-in-10 support erasing any records a player set while using steroids (63%) as well as banning the player from inclusion in the Hall of Fame (63%).  However, only 1-in-3 Americans (33%) would support a lifetime playing ban for a player who was found to have used steroids more than once.

Notes on the poll:  Professional baseball fans who watch games at least once a week represent 23% of American adults and occasional viewers make up 21% of the public.  The remaining 56% of adults say they are not fans of professional baseball.  This poll was conducted after the suspension of Milwaukee Brewer player Ryan Braun but before the most recent sanctions against New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and other players were announced.  

The latest Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone with 1,012 adults from July 25 to 30, 2013.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.1 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     Overall, do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Major League Baseball? [If FAVORABLE/UNFAVORABLE: Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?]

2.     Would you say you are a fan of professional baseball or not?

[THE FOLLOWING QUESTION WAS ASKED ONLY OF BASEBALL FANS: moe=+/-4.6%]

3.     How often do you watch Major League Baseball games – practically every day, at least 3 days a week, once or twice a week, a few times a month, or less often?

4.     Have you read or heard anything about baseball players using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs?  [If YES:  Have you heard a lot or just a little?]

 [THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WERE ASKED OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE HEARD AT LEAST A LITTLE ABOUT BASEBALL PLAYERS USING STEROIDS OR OTHER PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS: moe=+/-3.3%]

5.     In 2005, Major League Baseball expanded testing and increased penalties for steroid use.  Do you think these actions have been effective or not effective at reducing steroid use in professional baseball?

6.     Do you think that the use of steroids has gone up, gone down, or is about the same as it was before the 2005 changes in testing and penalties?

7.     How seriously does Major League Baseball take the issue of steroid use – very seriously, somewhat seriously, not too seriously, or not at all seriously?

8.     Please tell me whether you would support or oppose each of the following penalties for a professional baseball player who has been found to use steroids more than once.  [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

             Ban from playing for 50 games

             Ban from playing for an entire season

             Ban from playing for life

             Erase any records set while using steroids

             Ban from the Hall of Fame

             Impose a fine of a full season’s salary

9.     If you found out that players on your favorite team used steroids, would you watch their games more often, less often, or about the same as you do now?

 

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on July 25 to 30, 2013 with a national random sample of 1,012 adults age 18 and older, including 708 via live interview on a landline telephone and 304 via live interview on a cell phone.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the entire nation.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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- Monmouth University Polling Institute