Darren Rovell of ESPN.com on the issue of college students not attending football games:
As the business of college football grew, many schools began moving student sections into some of the worst seats in order to make boosters happy in prime seats. But as student crowds at some schools started to fade, athletic department officials at those schools began to understand that if they didn’t get the students in the building while they were at school, they might not get their money in the future.
I feel like Rovell really buried the lede here. It’s not just college teams current situation that should be a concern, these are the future season ticket holders of America. Season tickets for any sport are expensive. College graduates make up most of the group with the disposable income to buy them. Many of the reasons cited in this article about why students don’t like to go to the games are only going to get worse before they get better. People in their 40s grew up at a time when cable TV was just coming on. There was still something special about going to a sporting event. Nowadays, even putting cost aside, the prospect of going to a game is just not what it used to me. Traffic and parking in most places adds at least an hour on each side of the event for most people. Increased commercials means the games last longer. Poor cell phone service means that being at the game makes a person feel less “connected” instead of more.
When cost comes back into the picture, things get crazy. At the Super bowl this year, food prices were obscene. $6 for a soft drink, when a 24-pack of Diet Coke cost $8 at the grocery store. $6 for a bottle of water. $14 for a can of beer. That doesn’t even take into account the 15 minute wait in line to get them.
Things will have to change. It might be a slow shift. It might take 20 years. But the way that people’s priorities have shifted, and costs have skyrocketed, it doesn’t seem likely that the next generation is going to put up with it. Some of the schools mentioned in this article are giving their students tickets for free and it’s not enough. These colleges should be concerned, but pro franchises should be terrified.