Over the several few years, attendance has been down at football games nationwide, and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald knows why: cell phones.
At Big Ten Media Days last week, Fitzgerald went on a rant about cell phone addiction, which he believes is not only affecting the sport of college football, but society in general.
And it just drove me up the wall. I literally wanted to be like a dad and go like, ‘Give me your phone, talk to each other. I mean this is pathetic.’ So, it was really, really pathetic.
“And I think that’s just, it’s just changed the way a lot of younger people and younger fans, intake is all through technology. And I mean, you watch a concert and everybody’s holding their phone up, like, ‘Listen, watch, take it in, create a memory’ because they don’t go back and watch the videos. They just want to post it on their social media, which is pathetic because it creates a society of, ‘Look at me, isn’t my life great?’ even though when they go home, they’re like, ‘I hate myself. I hate my life. Everything’s wrong.’ So, I think it’s a big cause. I think it’s the root cause, number one.”
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’s rant has gone viral in the last 24 hours, and I get it. On one hand, he’s right: cell phone addiction is a very real thing, and it has changed society. Sometimes, my husband and I are like those couples that he talked about, checking our phones instead of talking at dinner. It sucks. I totally agree with him about the importance of disconnecting and the epidemic of social media authenticity. It’s something I think about a lot.
…That being said, cell phone addiction isn’t just a millennial problem. I know plenty of people older than me whose heads are always in their phones, so to pin low attendance on “kids these days” feels lazy. Similarly, it’s not just young people choosing to stay home instead of going to the stadium; we can complain as much as we want to about student attendance, but last year, students actually showed up at Kroger Field. In fact, Kentucky Football season and single-game ticket sales are way up, proof that if you win, they will come.
To me, the real reason attendance is down at sporting events is that it’s so much easier to watch games at home on your couch in front of your HDTV with your internet (including the KSR live blog) and your fridge in your climate controlled home than to invest in a day at the stadium. Sure, cell phones and social media play a part in that, but going to games isn’t cheap or easy anymore.
The reality is, as technology continues to make life more and more convenient, sports teams have to find ways to make games worth the money and effort, whether it be alcohol sales, better wifi, lower ticket and concession prices, or an improved game day environment. Times have changed, and in turn, teams must adapt.
Okay, I’m off the soap box. Thoughts on Fitzgerald’s rant?