Low Student Attendance at University Football Games–A Cultural Change?

American_FootballThe Wall Street Journal has reported that student attendance at American Football games in colleges and universities in 2013 dropped 7% when compared with attendance in 2009 (Wall Street Journal, “Missing From Major College Stadiums: The Students.” 28 August 2014, p. A1). The Journal gives soaring ticket prices, television coverage of games, and heavy student demands by other activities as reasons for the decline in attendance. No cultural explanation is offered—but I wonder. I am wondering if perhaps there are cultural reasons as to why students are not flocking to American Football games. Could it be that the tastes are changing?

Certainly the seemingly no-holds-barred way of tackling and bringing people to the ground that is practiced in American Football contrasts with the finesse of Soccer, for example, where a tackle to the body can result in a yellow or red card. Since many of the students attending universities today played soccer when they were kids—and learned well the soccer rules of refinement and sportsmanship—they may be less than thrilled by the coarser rules of American Football.

Soccer_at_the_Big_HouseThis may also explain why the soccer game between Manchester United and Real Madrid (2×1) on August 2, 2014, which was played at the “Big House” of the University of Michigan, had a packed stadium of 109,000 people. It should be noted that, when the Big House was first constructed, the American Football coaches at that time swore that Soccer would NEVER be played at the Big House! In contrast, the University of Michigan made all the necessary changes to the field, including making it wider, in order to accommodate soccer. The game between Real Madrid and Manchester United had the largest ever soccer attendance in the United States.

100,009_fans_watch_soccerAnother cultural reason may be the composition of college campuses. More women and more minority students are now attending universities in the United States. It is likely that a large number of those students played soccer when they were kids. For minority students, it is likely that their parents and relatives are soccer fans. Quite possibly, then, those students have become accustomed to the refinement of soccer rather than the roughness of American Football.

I personally enjoy a good game of American Football, even though I prefer to watch it on television rather than at the stadium. In contrast, I prefer to watch a soccer game at the stadium rather than on television. Thus, I have season tickets for the University of Michigan Men’s soccer games but not for their American Football games. And like me, others may feel likewise.

I conclude with a quote:

To be one with all that lives, to return in blessed self-oblivion into the All of nature, that is the summit of thoughts and joys, that is the holy mountain height, the place of eternal repose, where the midday loses its swelter and the thunder its voice and the boiling sea resembles the billowing field of grain. (Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. Hyperion. iBooks.)

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
August 28, 2014—Just a few days before returning to activities at Eastern Michigan University

Photo Credits:
Photo: American Football
Author: Johann Schwarz
Source: http://bit.ly/1tes4QH
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Soccer at the Big House of the University of Michigan
Author: Howard Watts

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