The Big Ten Media Days have been a source of some big controversies these last few days. But comments made by Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald about attendance have really caught peoples’ attention.
When asked about the recent decline in college football attendance, Fitzgerald ranted that the phone and technology have caused the decline. He lamented how young people are so different now that they spend so much time looking at their phones instead of talking.
“I think phones, I think technology has been the decline in attendance, No. 1,” Fitzgerald said. “Watching young people today live like this (with their heads in their phones) instead of like that (with their eyes up front)…”
He went on to complain that people prefer to watch the games on TV rather than experience the “pageantry and the tailgating.”
“…They’d rather have 12 TVs set up in their TV-watching cave than go to a game and experience the pageantry and the tailgating. I think it’s definitely things we need to look at as a brand, college football, on how we can create that type of environment and experiences while respecting our communities and our neighborhoods to make sure the experiences that are happening don’t impede on those neighborhoods.”
The rant had several million views within two days of the interview taking place, and has certainly re-opened the discussion on the matter.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald puts NCAA football's attendance problem and really society's eventual downfall in perspective:
— Rick Tarsitano (@RickTarsitano) July 20, 2019
Fitzgerald is coming off one of the best seasons of his coaching career. He led the Wildcats to an 8-4 regular season record, securing his first-ever Big Ten West division title and a spot in the Big Ten title game.
Northwestern would go on to beat Utah in the Holiday Bowl to finish 9-5 on the season and ranked 21st in the nation.
Fitzgerald has certainly garnered a ton of attention this year, and maybe his team’s strong season will improve attendance next year.
Then again, it’s possible some college football programs may be nearing a point of no return as far as filling stadiums goes.