Why? Lots of reasons I suspect, but let’s look at the easy one first:
“Bowl game attendance also declined for the seventh straight year to an average of 40,506 in the 40 games. That marks a 23 percent drop-off in average bowl attendance since 2010.”
The playoff has created three really interesting bowl matchups. The other 37 bowl games? Glorified exhibitions that are totally meaningless. It’s no wonder that fans aren’t all that interested in traveling and attending these games the way they used to be.
But what about the larger issue, the trend of fewer people showing up even in the regular season?
Yes, I’d agree that students don’t turn out the way they used to, and that’s part of it. They aren’t looking at football as a huge part of the college experience, although I suspect many of them tailgate and watch on TV. It’s just spending 4+ hours in the stadium doesn’t really interest them as much as it once did.
It’s also that many games college program fan bases are in “playoff or bust” mode, meaning that once it becomes clear this isn’t a playoff team, why bother showing up? Especially if you’re playing some FCS team that you don’t care about at all.
Also, tickets are expensive. That’s a lot to spend to take the kids to a game.
Lastly, football in general is going through a change within our culture due to head injuries. There are a lot of people questioning whether to even watch football any more, especially at this level where players aren’t even being paid for the risk they are taking. There’s some moral ambiguity in being a football fan in 2018, and that’s going to keep some people away.
Mostly though, I think young people simply don’t want to dedicate their entire Saturday to a football game. Given the pregame events, the length of games themselves, and the limitations on what they can do in the stadium, why not just watch on TV, or just catch the highlights later?
And that’s not good news for the NCAA.