gbs.mac@emory.edu

     Atlanta, Georgia

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Why is College Football Attendance Dropping?

Updated: Mar 2

I labored through this article on SI. (One of the worst internet experiences - multiple pop ups and videos.) College football attendance is facing a "crisis." First the photographic evidence from the Swamp.









Overall, attendance has dropped by about 7.6% over the past 5 years.


Florida isn’t alone—and plenty other schools have it much worse. From 2014 to ’18, attendance across the FBS fell by 7.6%. Last year, on average, 41,856 fans went to games. That’s the lowest turnout since 1996; even major programs like Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss suffered declines of greater than 5%. The NCAA has yet to release its full report on 2019’s numbers, but pictures of nearly-empty stadiums, from big to small programs, popped up every fall weekend on Twitter. During bowl season, as games moved to neutral sites, the stands were so empty it looked more like spring football. Even athletic directors will openly admit it:

The article tells a long story that talks about phones, the younger generation(s) apathy, harder classes and even "too much" winning. The athletic departments' proposed remedies seem to be improved customer experience and better Wi-Fi. The concluding paragraph.


Hoover’s comments drove home how when we talk about falling attendance in college football, it’s often speculation divorced from students’ actual lives. But this isn’t a referendum on kids these days. It’s a referendum on college these days, which affects college football these days. It sounds obvious, but what did you think would happen when students facing astronomical tuition bills were asked to pay more to watch less competitive games? Declining attendance isn’t a sign of moral weakness or a lack of emotional investment, it’s a sign of shifting realities. If I learned anything on college campuses this fall, it’s this: Fans still believe in the gospel of football. They’ll even pay for it. It just has to be worth the cost.

I think it is something fundamental. Fandom is about identity and community. Modern college football has to ask if the football product is still firmly attached to the "college community." And colleges (if they care) have to ask if the college environment is still creating a community that students want to be a part of.