Major-college football experienced its largest per-game attendance drop in 34 years and second-largest ever, according to recently released NCAA figures.
Attendance among the 129 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in 2017 was down an average of 1,409 fans per game from 2016. That marked the largest drop since 1983 when average attendance declined 1,527 fans per game from 1982.
The 2017 FBS average of 42,203 fans per game is the lowest since 1997.
I knew those players taking a damned knee during the National Anthem… oh, wait.
How about this, then? Those liberals just don’t appreciate ‘Murica’s greatness like they used to… um, what’s that you say?
Even the most rabid league in the country saw a dip. In 2017, the SEC experienced its sharpest per-game decline — down an average 2,433 fans — since 1992. That figure led the Power Five in fans lost per game in 2017.
While the SEC led all FBS conferences in average attendance for the 20th consecutive year, its average attendance (75,074) was the lowest since 2005. The SEC has slipped an average of 2,926 fans per game (3.7 percent) since a record 78,630 average in 2015.
Well, dayum, Johnny, what’s the problem?
College sports has long been at odds with how to manage the time/value relationship. In other words, how to make attendance at a live event more valuable than the alternatives, which range from remaining at a tailgate outside the venue to viewing on a smartphone while on the go to watching in the comfort of one’s living room.
“It’s a technology issue,” said Wright Waters, Football Bowl Association executive director and former Sun Belt commissioner. “The public is ahead of us every day in what they can get from technology. We have not been able to keep up.”
One former Power Five athletic director called it a “societal shift” leading the powers that be scrambling to figure out the viewing habits of millennials as well as well-heeled alumni.
“This is not surprising to me,” said Bill Lutzen, a veteran sports TV programmer who is currently the CFO of a web optimization firm. “This issue is with lack of involvement of the college students. They no longer view attending sporting events as part of the university experience.”
Gee, you mean there’s a price to pay for crapping all over your fan base? Who’da thunk it? Certainly not the geniuses who’ve been selling out the sport to whatever broadcast partner they can find with some cash to spend. Well played, everyone.
Ordinarily, I’d say it’s something to bring to the attention a certain someone at Butts-Mehre, but he’ll be long gone by the time this particular poo hits the proverbial fan.