In case you missed it, Big Ten football media days took place last week in Chicago, with coaches and players sitting down with reporters to give platitudes and other uninformative statements. Media days aren’t particularly exciting for Iowa fans as Kirk Ferentz has been doing it for 20 years, he’s said the same thing for about the last 10 and there hasn’t been a controversial topic worth discussing since about 2007. Fortunately for us, Pat Fitzgerald was there to drop several shit takes that actually made these media days memorable.
When Fitzgerald was asked about declining attendance at college football games, he attributed it to phones and technology, which in my estimation is 100% correct. With the quality of technology improving, it’s simply cheaper, easier and all-around better to watch a football game on TV. Just consider the cost and time it takes to attend a football game at Kinnick Stadium. First, there’s the traffic. Second, you have to pay for parking. Third, there’s the ticket cost. Fourth, there’s the cost of concessions and you can’t buy alcohol. And fifth, there’s the traffic again.
Now, if I watch a football game at home, I can wake up at 10:00 AM, watch College Gameday, crack a cold one and tune in to the Iowa game in high definition. I have, quite literally, the best view on earth when I’m watching the game on a high definition TV. Or hell, even if I’m watching it on my phone or iPad! If I want to go to the bathroom, it’s down the hall. If I want to make lunch, it’s downstairs in the kitchen. And when the game is over there isn’t any traffic. I can just change the channel to ESPN and continue watching another game. It’s stress-free.
So, on the simplest level, I think Pat Fitzgerald is 100% right. Phones and technology are absolutely contributing to the decrease in college football attendance.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Fitz didn’t really want to discuss declining attendance but instead wanted to have a Boomer bitch fest about Millennials on their phones. Here’s the full video:
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
I know you might be watching this on one, but couldn't agree more with @PatFitzgerald23 pic.twitter.com/lQfiyVmpmM
Highlights include him:
Labeling two couples out at dinner that were on their phones instead of conversing with one another as “pathetic.”
Going full Boomer with: “You watch a concert and everyone is 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.’”
- Claiming that the people who were raised going to football games and tailgating are all aging out and that the younger generation would rather have 12 TVs rather than experience “pageantry” and tailgating.
It’s aggravating because Fitzgerald himself isn’t even a Boomer, safely born in 1974. Yet, he drops some of the most “kids these days with their avocado toast,” “stick to sports,” “you shouldn’t have taken out those student loans if you couldn’t afford them,” “the players already get paid with free education,” Ford F-150 Twitter shit takes I’ve seen in a while with “the kids are ruining everything with their phones" and "this generation hates themselves."
And of course, of course, members of America’s most dyingest profession, the sportswriter, are gobbling all this up and slapping him on the back saying “HO BOY YOU NAILED IT.” Failing to realize that their own inability to change and continuing to think that a mustache is refined is why newspapers close up shop every other week. The incapacity to adjust to technological changes is why attendance is declining in college football. But to make a better point: it’s the money, stupid.
And you know whose fault it is? It isn’t the “kids and their phones.” It’s your fault, Pat. It’s your administrator’s fault. It’s your institution's fault. At Iowa, it’s Barta’s fault. It’s Kirk’s fault. It’s [INSERT CARTOONISH SUIT WHO RUNS THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA] fault. This is about money. It’s expensive to go to a football game. It’s expensive to drive there. It’s expensive to park. It’s expensive to eat. A ticket to watch Iowa play Illinois, ILLINOIS, A TEAM THAT HAS WON NINE GAMES IN THREE YEARS, is $65 a person.
And why are all of these things expensive?
Profit margin, of course. Nothing really needs to be this expensive but if we want to keep Gary Barta in the black to pay for settling discrimination lawsuits, we’d better charge $8 for a piece of pizza.
How expensive things are has shifted the pendulum towards people favoring staying home or going to a bar and utilizing technology to watch the game. So, do coaches speak out about trying to lure fans back with a more entertaining gameday experience or do administrators make things more affordable for the common man? Well, some have…about 10 years later. Only recently has Iowa started to address their gameday experience but they: still won’t sell beer, engage in a criminal activity known as the “burrito lift,” and think that the 264th consecutive rendition of "Thriller" by the Hawkeye Marching Band is legitimate halftime entertainment. This is saying nothing of the cost, which is still too damn high, especially for students. And this isn’t just at Iowa. It’s everywhere.
The failure to address costs and lackluster gameday experience will result in a continued decrease in attendance across college football. It isn’t the “kids and their phones” that are at fault, Pat. It’s people like you, the people in power. The “Man”. So if you’re looking for someone to blame, maybe you should just go look in the mirror.