Americans and fans of the National Football League (NFL) are already pondering their entertainment options as the possibility of a cancelled 2011 season looms, a new Vision Critical / Angus Reid poll has found.

The online survey of a representative sample of 1,002 American adults finds that one third of respondents (33%) describe themselves as “fans of the NFL, who truly enjoy watching the sport.”

The poll was conducted as the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association were engaged in intense negotiations to extend the so-called collective bargaining agreement. In the end, no deal was reached and the owners locked out the players. The work stoppage—the first to affect the NFL since 1987—could lead to the cancellation of the 2011 season.

Overall, one quarter of Americans (27%) and one-in-ten NFL fans (11%) say they are “very likely” or “moderately likely” to stop following the NFL permanently if the 2011 NFL season is cancelled. Three-in-ten Americans (31%) and one-in-five NFL fans (22%) say they would stop following the NFL for a few years in the event of a cancellation.

Almost half of Americans (45%) and a majority of NFL fans (55%) say they will find other sports to follow instead of the NFL if the 2011 NFL season is cancelled. A large majority of respondents (72% of Americans and 86% of NFL fans) are likely to spend more time with family and friends.

Despite finding ways to cope, a cancellation of the NFL would likely impact the personal happiness of many Americans across all walks of life, with a substantial impact on NFL fans. Despite the fact that many Americans are not full blown NFL fans, more than two-in-five respondents (42%) report they would be “moderately or much less happy” if the upcoming season were cancelled. The proportion of dissatisfied respondents is nearly double for NFL fans, with three-in-four (76%) saying they would be “moderately or much less happy” if the season were cancelled.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From March 10 to March 11, 2011, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 1,002 American adults who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of the United States. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.