Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Factors Influencing Student and Employee Attendance at NCAA Division I Fbs College Football Games

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Factors Influencing Student and Employee Attendance at NCAA Division I Fbs College Football Games

Article excerpt


Intercollegiate athletics have brought increased exposure and recognition to colleges and universities since they were first established in the early nineteenth century. Even though the model has evolved over the years, athletics programs are still a very important tool for marketing and publicizing the institutions as a whole (Suggs, 2003). Schools must have an established fan base both on a local and national level in order to keep revenue sources intact and stadiums filled. Revenue generating sports such as football are relied upon most to execute this campaign. Administrators involved in all aspects of external relations from admissions to community affairs often use football programs and their games to orchestrate involvement that will translate into direct support for the university (Toma, 2003, p. 142).

College football has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years despite a plethora of other concerns at many public and private universities. In five of the past six years, attendance records have been set at contests across the nation. The number of fans attending football games at the 638 NCAA schools in 2011 reached an all-time high of 49,699,419 (National Football Foundation, 2012). The total figure represents an increase of 28,524 from the 2010 season and an increase of more than 12.2 million fans (32%) since 1998 (National Football Foundation). This swell in attendance has come despite rising ticket prices across the country. The richest tickets during the 2011 season for the top games were valued at greater than $500 a piece according to secondary markets (Rovell, 2011). Furthermore, fans of college football are regularly subject to required donations to the athletic development department in order to be granted the right to purchase tickets in the first place.

At the FBS level in 2011, the average profit for each football team was in excess of $1 mission each game, with the University of Texas program leading the way in both revenue ($96 million) and profit ($71 million) during the season (Smith, 2012). In addition, football teams can help to sustain the athletic program through lucrative media packages in place with the BCS, both at the conference an institutional levels. Deals such as the Pac-12's landmark $2.7 billion broadcast agreement with ESPN represent millions of dollars annually in newfound revenue for conferences and schools (Horrow & Swatek, 2011). The high television ratings in large part have justified these newfound deals. More than 213 million people watched a regular season college football game last season along with another 127 million who viewed the 35 post-season bowl match-ups (National Football Foundation, 2012).

While the newly signed television deals are a benefit, they do not come without a cost to athletic departments. Nearly every college football game involving FBS institutions is now televised or available live on the Internet. With this being the case, many fans now have the choice to stay at home and watch games on their high-definition televisions with surround sound systems. This has become a more desirable option due to the fact that the experience has become so much better and it's more cost efficient than attending the game at the stadium. In response, athletic departments must find a way to respond to these challenges if they want to be financially sustainable in future years. There is no bigger, more prominent venue for schools to confront the current issues than at college football games. Therefore, it is logical to assume that all of the constituents with a vested interest in these contests can benefit from better understanding the factors that influence attendance at collegiate football games.

Literature Review

To help frame the research, a conceptual framework was developed with the inclusion of an economic choice theory to help better understand consumer behavior. In addition, previous spectator motivation studies were examined to determine some of the reasons why consumers choose to attend sporting events. …

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