Is technology to blame for the decline in college football attendance?

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Jul 19, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks during the Big Ten Football Media Days event at Hilton Chicago. Mandatory Credit: Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

When it comes to the decline in college football attendance, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald pointed to cellphones being one of the major reasons why. 

During a media day press conference, Fitzgerald said, “I think phones, I think technology has been the decline in attendance.”

How bad are the attendance problems?

According to CBS Sports, the 2018 CFB season saw the lowest average attendance in 22 years.

Of the Power Five conferences, the ACC was the only one with an average attendance increase in 2018. For the fifth consecutive year, the majority of the 10 FBS conferences were down in attendance (7 of 10 in 2018). 

How do they fix it?

For Coach Fitzgerald, prioritizing the fan experience is about creating the best parties during every home game.

“When I think of college football Saturdays, I’ve said it every year, I want to create seven parties. I want everyone that walks into our building to walk in and say ‘I’m excited to watch this game. I’m having a great time. I’m fired up to support the Cats.’ They walk out of there going ‘that was one of the best experiences of my life.”

What did fans have to say?

Attendance issues in sports are a hot-button topic, so we polled our Twitter followers to see what contributed to them attending fewer games. Of the 594 people who voted, 58% said that the price of tickets was the main reason keeping them home, while 24% pointed to time commitment being the biggest factor.

It is also worth noting, that in a separate poll with 652 votes, 54% of those who voted agreed with Coach Fitzgerald.