As I’m sure most of you have seen or heard by now, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald brought this topic to the forefront recently. He brought up the notion that attendance is down across college football, and most other sports, because it has become too easy to catch the game on various forms of media. Cable, satellite, and streaming services have given us options never before offered to the die hard sports fan. I believe he has a point.
Attending a game is a great experience most of the time. For me, I love going down to Great American Ballpark to watch my Reds. Then again, it’s summertime, the weather is usually pretty nice, and baseball is a more laid back game than the other Big 4 sports. You hang out with your friends, drink a few beers, and hope for a win. If they don’t win, you have 161 other games to watch, be it in person or on TV.
College football is a different animal. Granted, the big programs will always sell out. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida; the fan base is huge and the stadiums are always packed. Come late fall though, and the smaller schools, the ones not in the spotlight 24/7, simply won’t fill the seats. Not many people will go out in 41 degree weather with a light rain to watch the Temple Owls take on the SMU Mustangs. They just won’t. If you do, God bless you. The majority of the fans would rather watch the game at a local sports bar or at home.
Over the years, I have seen my own habits change. I used to head over to the University of Cincinnati a couple times each season to watch the Bearcats play. I can still remember watching Antwan Randle El singlehandedly beat UC when he was a freshman. Good Lord he was good. It gets cold later in the season though and as I’ve gotten older, that just doesn’t sit well with me. In addition to that, technology has made it very easy and comfortable to stay home and enjoy multiple games at once. My setup now includes 2 big screen TVs, a laptop, a Fire tablet, and a Nest Hub. 5 games at once in the comfort of my home, a pizza delivered to my door, and beer that costs way less than $8 make this an easy decision.
Pat Fitzgerald made some good points though. Sporting events aside, we have become far too dependent on technology and personal devices. I noticed just last night at the gym how many people were on ellipticals or treadmills while staring at their phones the entire time. There were even a few on the indoor track just ambling along staring at their screens, totally oblivious to their surroundings. Have you recently had a conversation with someone under the age of 25? Difficult, huh? Our technological advancements have taken away the ability to carry on a conversation. I don’t mean to sound like the ‘get off my lawn’ guy, but there has to be a middle ground that we can work towards. When I’m at the gym, the phone stays in my locker. At a game, it only comes out between innings or during a dead ball moment. At concerts, a few quick pics and maybe a short video or 2. Other than that, I prefer to live in the moment. We seem to have lost that in lieu of grabbing some sweet pics and videos that we can post to social media.
The world is always changing. We can adapt or we can be left behind. I’m not saying being left behind is a bad thing either. If that’s your comfort zone, then embrace it. Most importantly though, live the moment. I’d rather hear a good story from you than see a pic or video that you took anyway. It’s more personal; it means more. So go enjoy the games, whether you’re at the game itself or watching from your couch.