Sunday, December 15, 2013

Declining College Student Attendance at College Football Games

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on college students declining attendance at college football games.  In fact even some college football coaches have responded, such as Alabama head football coach Saban suggesting that if fans do not want to stay for the entire game, to give their ticket to someone who does.  Selling a ticket might also work.

Reasons cited in the WSJ article are poor cellular reception, substitutes - such as bars or big screen TV's, the team's poor performance, and reduced uncertainty of outcome (blowouts).  This last one is a hallmark of sports economics, so let me give a very quick overview.  Simon Rottenberg stated that teams that play games where the fans view the outcome (win or loss) as being fairly predictable are less likely to attend sporting events than for sporting contests where the outcome is fairly uncertain.  In fact, New Mexico State earlier this year offered students cash prizes and VIP parking passes if they agreed to attend the entire game since student attendance was so low.  (The New Mexico State Aggies football team has been below 0.500 at least since the 2003 season).   On the other hand, Rottenberg states that the less predictable the final game outcome, the more likely that fans will attend a game holding other fan characteristics constant.

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