‘Strip Houston Astros of 2017 Title’ Say Americans by Wide Margin: 84% Say ‘Really Hurts Game’ when Team Breaks Rules; 83% Say ‘Really Hurts Country’ when Politicians Do

Support Expressed for Kobe Bryant Adorning NBA Logo

South Orange NJ, February 10, 2020  —  By a wide margin – 52 percent to 35 percent, Americans believe that the Houston Astros’ world championship of 2017 should have been taken away.

No professional sports team in a major sport has ever been penalized to such an extreme, but that did not seem to faze public opinion in this case.  (A decision on the Boston Red Sox and cheating is still to come).

The Seton Hall Sports Poll was conducted last week among 662 adults on landlines and cellphones across America.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

In the wake of MLB’s findings that the Astros employed video sign-stealing methods during games (with the payoff being the banging of a garbage can by a bat), the majority of people thought that having the manager and general manager suspended and the loss of draft choices was not enough.

Hurts the Game
The tough attitude was reflected in a further question, in which the public was asked whether a team breaking rules to gain an unfair advantage was “no big deal” or really hurtful to the game.  Eighty-four percent said it really hurts the game with only eight percent saying it happens all the time and is no big deal.

What About Politicians Who Break the Laws?
Similarly, the public was of the same mind about politicians breaking laws to get an unfair advantage over an opponent.  83 percent said it really hurts the country, and 12 percent said it happens all the time and is no big deal.

By Gender and Political Affiliation: Game and Politics
However, there are some interesting differences by gender and party affiliation.  In regard to the game, men and women were pretty similar with men choosing by 82 to 9 percent and women 85 to 8 percent that it hurts the game rather than “no big deal.”  In regard to politics, men were 80 to 17 percent and women were 87 to 8 percent.  In regard to the game the parties were pretty similar, with Democrats 90 to  8 and Republicans 86 to 8 that it “really hurts the game.”

In regard to politics, however, Republicans at 68 to 23 were much less concerned that breaking the laws hurt the country than Democrats at 88 to 9.

Winning at All Costs, Sports or Politics?
The Poll also asked how the public sees the relative competitiveness between politics and sports and found that 53 percent saw “winning at all costs” strongest in politics, 20 percent said professional sports and 12 percent said collegiate sports.  For Democrats it was 57, 19 and 15, and for Republicans it was 49, 21 and 12.  Men and women saw things differently – 57 percent of women said “win at all costs” is strongest in politics (as opposed to 47 percent of men) and 17 percent of women said “win at all costs” was strongest in pro sports, but 24 percent of men felt that way.

Which is More Detrimental, Sign Stealing or PEDs?
As for perceptions of wrong doing on sports fields, 38 percent said it was more detrimental to baseball to take performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), with 24 percent saying stealing signs illegally was more detrimental.  Thirty-one percent said both.

“The sentiment to strip the Astros of their trophy is well reflected in the seriousness by which people view rule breaking,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business.

Should NBA Change its Logo to Represent Kobe Bryant?
Almost as soon as news spread over Kobe Bryan’s tragic death, there began a buzz as to whether to change the NBA logo, which currently features an image based on Jerry West.  Twenty-eight percent of respondents said it should be changed to an image of Bryant, with 24 percent saying the current logo should be retained. Twenty-four percent said it should not feature any player, and 5 percent said it should feature someone other than West or Bryant.

Two-thirds of the support for a Bryant image came from those ages 18-29, a sign, seemingly, of the generation of basketball that they grew up with.

About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone February 3-5 among adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.  The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.Recently chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to Fox News and most points in between.

Media: Media: Marty Appel, AppelPR@gmail.com;
Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall
michael.ricciardelli@shu.edu, 908-447-3034

The results:

  1. The NBA logo is based on basketball icon of the 1960’s and ’70’s Jerry West, who has said he’d rather the NBA use someone else. There is a petition to replace West with Kobe Bryant, the former NBA great who recently lost his life in a helicopter crash. Should the NBA change its logo to be based on Kobe Bryant’s image, keep the current logo, change the logo to feature someone other than West or Bryant or not feature any player?

All     18-29   30-44   45-59    60+

1 – Based on Bryant                                                    28%     67            25        12        17

2 – Keep current logo                                                  24        11            29        27        27

3 – Feature someone other than West or Bryant     5          3              7          4          4

4 – Don’t feature any player                                        24        13           26        29        26

5 – Don’t know/No opinion                                          20          7           14        28        27


  1. In general how do you feel about a team breaking rules to get an unfair advantage over an opponent?

All        M            W         D         R

1 – It happens all the time, no big deal                       8         9              8          7         7
2 – It really hurts the game                                          84      82            85        81       87
3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                            8        9              8        12          6


  1. In general how do you feel about a politician breaking laws to get an unfair advantage over an opponent?

1 – It happens all the time, no big deal                                  12        17               8         3        23

2 – It really hurts the country                                       83        80            87       94        68

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                            4          6           1            3          9

  1. Where do you think that “winning at all costs” is strongest, politics, professional sports or collegiate sports?


1 – Politics                                                                   53        47            58        57        49

2 – Professional sports                                                20        24            17        19        21

3 – Collegiate sports                                                    12        14            10        15        12

4 – Don’t know/No opinion                                          15        16            15          9        18


  1. The Houston Astros were fined, lost draft choices and had the Manager and General Manager suspended for one year (and later fired by the team) by Major League Baseball for illegally stealing signs electronically to possibly help them win the 2017 World Series. Do you think their World Series Championship should also have been taken away?


1 – Yes                                                                        52

2 – No                                                                          35

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                      13


  1. Do you think it is more detrimental to the game of baseball to take performance enhancing drugs or to illegally steal the catcher’s signs and tell the batter what pitch is coming and what the location will be?


1 – Taking PEDs                                                         38

2 – Stealing signs                                                       24

3 – Both                                                                       31

4 – Don’t know/No opinion                                        8

  1. How closely would you say you follow sports, very closely, closely, not closely or not at all?

1 – Very closely                                                           17

2 – Closely                                                                   34

3 – Not closely                                                             29

4 – Not at all                                                                20

  1. How do you identify yourself politically, as a Democrat, as a Republican, as an Independent or not at all?

1 – Democrat                                                               32

2 – Republican                                                             27

3 – Independent                                                           27

4 – None                                                                         12

5 – Don’t know/No opinion                                            4


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 110-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received more than 30 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. The University is also proud to be the third most diverse national Catholic university in the nation.

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