SI: Unexcused Absence: Why Is College Football Attendance Tanking?

Interesting read on declining college attendance. It's not a formal study, but there's definitely some interesting takeaways.

LINK

Students wonder whether it's worth paying when you don't know if your friends are going to go. When it might be 125ΒΊβ€”or 25ΒΊ, depending on your schoolβ€”at kickoff. When you might be watching a blowout. When college is already so expensive that you're facing decades of debt. When the academics are harder. When there have never been more cheaper entertainment options just a click away.

Hoover recited reasons students didn't give [for not attending college football games]: "I didn't hear anything about [traumatic brain injury]. I didn't hear anything about the violence of the sport, didn't hear that it was boring relative to other options, didn't hear anybody complain about long timeouts for TV. The things people think. I never heard any student say those in my class."

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Let me guess: cost and convenience?

I mean, it's pretty easy to get a six pack and nachos and stream the game.

Also, it's easier now than ever to access games live - last year I was on a boat, and I watched some games on my cell phone.

Digitization. They don't need to be at the game to get the full experience.

Colleges make more money off of the TV distribution than anything else.

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I think going to a game and watch a game on tv/online are two very, very different experiences. What's changed, in my opinion, is that watching a game at home can finally offer a better experience

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I agree. Why pay a ton of money to sit and freeze in the stands and get a crappy view when you can get a crystal clear picture from the comfort of your living room.

When I go to a game I go for the experience myself, especially a college game.

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Many times this season I sat at the tailgate and streamed it to a flatscreen TV.

This is going to be great for the ACC.

4k 50+ inch flat screen TVs have something to do with it.

Meh 4k doesn't mean much when the game is being filmed and broadcast in 720, like Fox does.

The second they start legitimately filming and streaming live sports in 4k, it'll be game changing.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Find good announcers and it would be game changing too.

Romo is the only announcer I enjoy. He's ridiculously informative while announcing

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Polarizing statement but I love Gus Johnson. You can fight me if you disagree.

I don't have a problem with most commentators, but Gus Johnson makes me throw up in my mouth.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

It'll be a standard 15 yard gain in an unremarkable drive to kick off the 2nd quarter in a 3-3 game and Gus Johnson will lose his mind like he just saw Montana throw to Dwight Clark.

I dont watch a lot of NFL but I've seen him be great in his analysis, the way Aikmen used to be a long time ago (before what I assume was the network telling him to stop because people didnt want really information I their minds), but then I saw him be not so great calling a game. Maybe it was an off day maybe he knew teams' offenses the couple times and then he didnt the other time.

While I agree with your point, it is my duty to chime in and question if we really need commentators in the first place? I drop this point year-in and year-out on this blog and probably should go home and play with my asshole instead because inevitably someone counters with "But I like Herbstreit and Fowler 69ing each other for hours over how good THE Ohio State could be if they didn't actually suck." And I guess that's fine if you get the privilege of having those two V ELITE TALKING HEADS call all your games. But we here in Hokieland know too well the sting of all-time BC wunderkind Mark Herzlich narrating the story of Ryan Willis throwing 15 picks in BC's endzone. We know the flavor left in our mouths after Carter Blackburn and Aaron Taylor called us the "hoagies" no less than 400 times during a 60-minute barrage of cock punches levied in a high school stadium at the hands of the Mighty Monarchs of ODU. WE ALL HERE HAVE BEEN FORCED TO ENDURE SEVERAL SLEEPY NOON GAMES AGAINST AN INFERIOR OPPONENT WHILE PAM WARD DOES HER BEST TO MAKE YOU HAVE A FUCKING STROKE OVER HOW BAD SHE IS AT HER JOB. What I am getting at is that we, like most teams who aren't Alabama, Clemson, tOSU, etc., almost always get paired with shittiest broadcasters that are barely hanging on at ESPN, and thus we too have the privilege of dealing with shitty broadcasters being shitty at their jobs almost every week.

Therefore, I will contend today, tomorrow, and forever that a truly game-changing event in terms of footbaww on television would be the option of no broadcasters at all. My favorite part about the CFB playoff, for example, has been watching all the games on the announcer-free skycam broadcast. If you haven't indulged, I urge you to try it out. The lack of a talking head simply rambling on and on about the shit they just saw is truly a liberating experience and one I believe that all footbaw fans can and should get behind. Even amid the ever-soaring price of cable/streaming, I would be absolutely happy to part with tens of dollars per month during football season for the ability to shut the announcers off and just hear the sounds of the game/crowd.

"You know when the Hokies say 'We are Virginia Tech' they're going to mean it."- Lee Corso

Convenience, expense, lack of parity, the sport has become way too focused on the national championship.

Recruit Prosim

I'm still going to say that the further concentration of talent on a small number of schools is a major contributor, especially in combination with cost to the consumer. It's the same problem most major sports had before things like the salary cap and other equalizers were put into place.

People will only pay so much to watch a team that will never win a championship (national or conference) because of factors outside of what happens on the field. That's at least >80% of FBS teams today for national championships, and I'd guess at least 50-60% for conference crowns.

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Did you read the article? All three teams are in the championship picture every year

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Nope. I don't generally read the text in the OP as I browse comments/tracker for new comments. Didn't even realize there was an article linked.

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The article only focuses on Clemson, OSU, and UF. All teams that are competing for conference and national championships each year.

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I think Jeep may still have a point. VT often does not sell out home games where we are favored by more than 25. If the fans are expecting a blow-out, many won't bother to attend. Clemson vs the ACC is like that for regular season games, unfortunately.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Others have made great points I agree with. I'll say something obvious that gets forgotten about: too many tv breaks. The game is more drawn out than it needs to be. Even though I prefer Football over Basketball, I actually sometimes enjoy college basketball games better because I know I haven't committed my entire day to watching one.

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Neat article. She seemed to want to draw a comparison early between Florida not selling out for the Towson game and then, amazingly, sell out and pack the stadium for the Auburn game. I wonder if there is a good explanation for that? We may never know.

EDIT: I want to add to this because she pointed it out in the article, and I think it's a major reason people don't go to games: Crappy home games. I might be willing to travel for games against teams like Notre Dame, PSU, OSU, and the like, but I'm sure as hell not going to try to get my ass down to Blacksburg for ECU. When I was on campus, I didn't even go to most of the blowout games. Of course now we don't really blow out much of anyone but that's just a further demotivator.

This is the reason I don't go to Va. Tech games anymore. This past season they played an unexciting home schedule and for that matter playing the JMUs and ODUs of the world don't get me excited. At the end of the day College Football is entertainment and if I'm not being entertained I'm spending my money elsewhere.

I feel like the crappy home schedules result in a compound effect where there's only 2 games really worth making a trip for. Problem is everyone now has to compete with one another to get tix and hotels for those 2 games which just jacks the prices for those games even more.

-Stick it in

But the point of the article was about student attendance. Attending a game isn't a full day commitment for them. It was more about the access to the game through digital means, rising costs, elevated academic requirements, etc.

To your basketball point though - if the breaks during a game were cut and a full gam could be played in 2-2 1/2 hours then I think there would be an uptick in student attendance. That may also cause a drop in alum attendance, but that's a different discussion.

But the point of the article was about student attendance. Attending a game isn't a full day commitment for them. It was more about the access to the game through digital means, rising costs, elevated academic requirements, etc.

You might be the only person who actually read the article lol

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I'm currently a senior at UF and i can tell you firsthand the only two games i went to and most people i know went to this year were Tennessee and Auburn. Normally it's $20 a game and for games like towson you can buy one for $10, but for Auburn the best i could find was $75 for just a student ticket. Most of us just don't want to sit thru the steaming heat (especially at 3:30 when the student section is getting beat down on). Most of the students who go to the crappy games like Towson are freshman who haven't experienced it before and can't really get into bars to watch it

Not having to listen to the fan beside you cuss out the refs for obvious good calls.

Or fans yelling because they dont know basic football rules (not talking about that fumble intentional grounding snap thing either)

College isn't quite as bad at this but it is 100% why I don't like going to NFL games. Just a bunch of drunk assholes that truthfully don't know jackshit about what they are watching but cussing like some drill sergeant at some new trainee, often getting racist as well. Some pretty shitty people seem to find their ways into the stadiums on Sundays.

That is 100%, no, 800% the truth. I went to the Redskins home game vs the Seahawks back in I think 2014. I swore I'd never go to another pro game again. Of the few I've been to the experience has been bad (dolphins in proplayer, Redskins at FedEx, and Baltimore at whatever the fuck that stadium is called).

The fans (not anyone team) are largely comprised of people who are absolutely hammered, a number of which are horrible to be around, yelling, cussing, taunting the other teams fans. It ridiculous how adults act.

At the Redskins game I saw two separate brawls. And all I could think about was how inconvenient and expensive the whole ordeal was from parking, to buying food and everything in-between. The environment at college games is significantly less shitty, if that makes sense.

I went to the Redskins home game...

Therein lies your problem.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Couldn't have said it better myself

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Live pro football games are largely unwatchable/un attend-able for normal people. It's a multi billion dollar business and profit is priority 1-100000. These owners don't care about the fans. They do nothing about lack of security, terrible overpriced food and drink, heinous traffic, etc. They don't care. the product on the field sucks to for the most part. Teams throw a parade now when they score 21 points. A million timeouts, obvious plays are reviewed for 15 minutes, etc. Unwatchable. The horrible, drunk, mouth breathing fans starting fights over what jersey you have on, or citing their super bowls from 30 years ago as a gotcha is just icing on this shit turd cake. Awful experience most of the time.

I feel like in college people go in larger groups and so the idiots trying to drink themselves to death have friends to support them and stop them from doing shit. At NFL I dont think you can get 8+ tickets together and even if you can its rare and so people dont have the support to stop shit. Also it's a different crowd I general.

OK, now I've read the article. Still comes down to cost and convenience.

It's easy and cheap to watch a game at home. You can get other stuff done that day. Minimal life disruption. In the fall, I can be out boating and still catch the game that day.

Going to a game, in my opinion, is a LOT more fun. Nothing beats a stadium experience for me. But travel costs and time, the hassle of planning and packing your supplies, acquiring tickets and getting parking, buying expensive food that I often don't find to be all that great - all of that is inconvenient when you can actually watch the game better from home, while enjoying your favorite beverage and meal.

It's a bit different than when we were students, because it was fun going to games as a student, and a lot cheaper, though the budget was also a lot smaller.

Most important part of the article:

even major programs like Ohio State, Virginia Tech

"even the big dawgs..."

Build the best tailgating experience and people will always go.

  1. It's more than that - according to the quotes in the article (which focuses on student attendance), a lot of students enjoy tailgating so much that they're not going into the game.
  2. Part of building the best tailgating experience is getting your family and friends there with you. For a lot of out of towners, it's really difficult to reach that critical mass, where enough of your friends are going that it justifies the expense and hassle of traveling. I only have one or two good friends from college who still live in Virginia. Everyone else is NYC, West Coast, living internationally, etc. I'm not traveling 7 hours to go to a game alone, but if all my friends had season tickets, I'd probably go to at least two games per season.

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Due to expansion and schools moving around conferences, there are fewer great conference rivals or teams with much of a history. Due to expansion, you play more conference games so there is going to be at least one 1-AA home game. Nobody wants to pay whatever the ticket price (way too much). is to see that. Ticket prices are way up anyway. They are twice at least what they were, 10-15 years ago. Thats ridiculous. And in our case, the product is no where near as good. The team and the home field experience.

And due to the college football playoff, and to a certain degree, having a conference championship game, each game has less meaning. The whole season used to be a playoff.

Agreed with the loss of some of the old great rivalry games. I started making plans a year ago to go to Morgantown for the VT / WVU game. That game is in 2021.

JP

May I suggest a flack jacket and helmet with face guard for the experience? Good luck and don't take the kids. Worst live football experience of my life, and I wouldn't repeat it without a couple of armed guards to enjoy it with.

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College schedules blow. It costs a lot to only see a few quality home games per year. Give me the tv with about one game in person per year and I am happy. I cant exactly explain the students though...they are free or reduced cost and the game day atmosphere is perfect for their life goals at 18-22 or so.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

Reasons I rarely get to attend in person:
1) Logistical costs and the stress associated with those logistics.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I don't think this gets stressed enough. Noon games can be friendly to alums and families, 330 kickoffs are downright perfect.

Primetime kickoffs are for a different type of environment.

I got at least one more year, and then we can start taking the toddler.

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I think the future of games will be through VR.

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You can't beat the live experience. The excitement in the stadium. The camaraderie of fellow Hokies. The tailgating with friends and the buzz leading up to game time. Jumping to Enter Sandman. Yelling your ass off and the the high fives and the groans. Can you get a great picture on your home tv? Sure. Is it cheaper at home? Of course. Is it a gameday experience like going to Lane? Of course not.

Yeah, but is it hundreds of dollars better? That's the math a lot of people are doing, and it seems like the answer is increasingly no.

Get Angry, Bud!

It can be in the $1000s of dollars. If you have to travel for the game and need a hotel, tickets for 4, tailgating supplies/food, drinks in the stadium, kids grew since last year/month so hokie emporium here we come.

Back when you had to make a donation to even think about tickets I went to 6 VT away games in a season (2009) for less than the cost of the donation to buy tickets. That was two trips to Atlanta (got a free ticket to one because a business trip got delayed), Duke and ECU were easy with friends in the area and, Maryland 1 hour drive, and UVA is 2 hours on game day.

There's obviously limits. Who is the opponent? What time game? How far to travel? Price is a concern. The teams that dominate college football, say money is no object. Plain and simple. They'll spend every dime. Can we compete with that mindset?

I live in town and I consider my support of the athletic department support of Hokie students. To me, I go to the games for free because I would make the same contribution even without receiving tickets. I go to 95% of basketball and football games and always have more fun in the stadium than watching on TV.

That said, I have no desire to increase giving for the budget required to compete for a championship.

Global warming is the cause.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

On that note...if we sufficiently melt the ice caps, thus pushing water far inland...boys, in a roundabout way, we could be setting ourselves up to be THE preeminent college football program. Blacksburg just became much, much closer, and potentially an ocean view campus.

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I really wish Blacksburg was a 2 hour drive instead of 4 hours from Northern Virginia. Would elevate everything about our program in terms of attendance and recruiting. Being an adult with adult responsibilities (not that I ever act like an adult) makes it where I have to basically pick and choose a game a year to go to. If there was an Amtrak option to Blacksburg, or an actual airport to get there easier would help a lot too.

The article did a lot to address some of the other things regarding attendance. I might be weird, but give me my one good game in Lane filled with O&M and Sandman over watching 12 games on TV. I understand why they can't cut all costs, but they need to re-evaluate how the pricing works in all aspects to make the game day experience more affordable. I also might be weird because I'm not that into the whole tailgating aspects. I go because it's killing time on campus, but I really just can't wait to get into the stadium.

If there was an Amtrak option to Blacksburg

Since the school has a partnership with Amazon, I say we need to convince Amazon to build a high speed rail system from Amazon's office to the Blacksburg campus. We convince them its necessary for the business/research logistics between the two sites but really we just want it for game day purposes.

I understand why they can't cut all costs, but they need to re-evaluate how the pricing works in all aspects to make the game day experience more affordable.

TBH the game day experience is pretty affordable - it's travel and lodging that break the bank.

You can get into ~80% of home games for well under $100/ticket. You can get a beer anywhere in town for under $5.00. You can get lunch for less than $15. You can get parking for $15 in the prices fork lot (at least you could 5 years ago, so that might've changed, but I doubt by much). You can get a Turkey leg and a bottle of water for under $20 inside the stadium - Not cheap, but if this is the one over priced thing all day, it's not a huge deal. Basically, you can spend a day drinking, eating, and watching football in Blacksburg for less than $200/person for almost any home game. That's not cheap, but, given that it includes ticket price, it's not unreasonable either.

Travel and lodging is a different story... If you're lucky you can drive to and from Blacksburg for $100 of gas or less and crash at a friend's place (that's what I used to do). If you're not that lucky, you could easily be looking at a $400 flight into Roanoke ($600-$800 is a lot more common from what I've seen), and at least $150/person/night for lodging.

Not sure what the administration can do to change travel costs; it's largely out of their hands.

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This is a good point, so to add on:

So many schools have a local alumni base, or a local loyalty base. If you're in Alabama or Mississippi, your school has a built-in fanbase who wants to go to the game who all live within an hour or so - that's a day trip, not a hotel accommodation.

Our major fan bases are way the hell outside of Blacksburg, either in 757 or 703. That requires crashing on a couch or getting a hotel.

Up here in State College, the hotels jack their prices up to an unreasonable rate and require multiple night minimums on football weekends to subsidize their existence. But people are willing to pay, and nothing will change until they're not.

I read somewhere that Blacksburg is growing faster than Roanoke. Not sure the truth to it, but that's our nearby metro area. Could be one of our issues.

The ACC move was supposed to build a new alumni base in Carolina. I don't know if that's grown or not, but we do seem to be all in with our Nova alums.

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This doesnt seem too bad until you take into account bringing wife and kids. At $150-$200/person that puts a family of 5 in the $750-$1000 range for a day trip. I love the Hokies and made it to games all the time before I started my family.

However, I cant rationalize spending that much money on a day trip when I can have entire week long vacations for cheaper.

I don't have kids, but don't you think that's pretty normal for any 'day out on the town' in any major city/major sporting event?

I imagine that if you're traveling with 3 kids, you're spending less on booze at the bar, and more in the stadium?

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Not for me. Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but my family and I often travel to places like Williamsburg, VA Beach, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach for anywhere from 4 to 7 days and spend nowhere near that amount.

I was thinking any city in which your watching a sporting event. Even if you go to NYC and catch a mid day Yankees game, and spend the whole day wandering the city, it's tough to not spend over a hundred per person.

When you go to Myrtle Beach, I assume your making a lot of your meals at home and whatnot. If you do the same at Blacksburg, it's going to save you money as well.

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I guess I would agree with major city. It's the main reason why none of the places I visit fit that category. We do mostly eat out on trips but we tend to get large entrees and have leftovers for lunch the next day, and food and beer is basically the only expense.(We use the timeshare tours to pay for all of our outings)

On this note, we all went to a Nationals game this year and by the end of the night I was well over $500 in the hole and chose not to drink due to outrageous prices. Unfortunately couldn't avoid overpriced tickets, parking, etc. as well as bottled water, pretzels, and chicken tenders for the kids. The problem was that due to the $$$ involved I was unable to enjoy the atmosphere or game and was mostly angry which took away from the experience a lot. Vowed never to return unless paid for as part of a business trip.

Haven't been back in years, but how much is an Air BNB in Blacksburg. Might help get costs down.

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This is a couple year's old, but it used to be pretty high. I had a friend who would airbnb his whole house (4 bedroom in hethwood) for football weekends. 6 home games meant 7 months mortgage.

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Agree that the in-stadium experience is totally worth it to me over watching the game on TV. I make it to all the home games and try to make the away games as often as possible.(made it to UVA and GT games this year; in 2016 I made it to all but the Syracuse game and next year I hope to make it to all of them again-helps that in even years the away games are mainly Duke, UNC (both closer to Richmond than Blacksburg is), Pitt(a 4-5 hour drive) and one or two others(2020 these are MTSU and Louisville)). I have been to games @OSU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Duke, UNC, Wake, and of course Lane North!( And look forward to trips to State College, Rutgers, the Grove, Nashville, Tuscaloosa, and Camp Randall (if that ever happens). Even BYU and Arizona later!)

Living in Richmond certainly helps- being a three hour drive each way to Blacksburg-I agree the lodging costs are largely prohibitive so I just make a (really LONG) day of it. Noon games mean a 430-5AM departure to have three hours of tailgating; night games mean a return to Richmond by about 4am. My kids are grown now so I don't have that issue which definitely makes it much easier.

I never leave a game early no matter what the score or weather; if I'm paying $50-75 a ticket I'm gonna get my money's worth. Re the knowledge of the fans, I think VT has a much more knowledgeable fan base than many schools (though we have our share of ignorant folks too LOL). One of the things I like best about our fans is that generally over the years they have stayed engaged even in late game blowouts. (a little less so recently but the 2018 season was likely an outlier due to the poor record. The atmosphere at both the Pitt game and the Wake game reminded me of the old days and hopefully with a lot of returning production this upcoming year will keep the excitement level going.

TLDR- I understand if you have to travel farther making a long day trip totally impractical and/or have kids/family that add incrementally to the cost that you won't make it as often. But for me, I'll take being there in Lane over TV every week!

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"

Amtrack is in the process of extending the line to Christiansburg. Their will be a stop adjacent to the Aquatic Center in Christiansburg.

It will be a decade before it's in operation.

Amtrak runs from NOVA to Roanoke now. Leaves 4pm or so arrives before 10pm to Roanoke. Leaves Roanoke at 6:19, I believe gets to NOVA around 11am. Generally $37 each way. One trip each way, each day. For a football game, would have to come Friday night, go back Sunday am. Two nights stay somewhere. Probably not really viable unless you have a place to crash cheaply.

Go Hokies!!

Amtrack blows. Seriously, go to their website and try to look up what a trip looks like between any two locations. Tickets are way overpriced and the trips are impractically long for long distance trips. It's hard to believe but plane trips are cheaper than Amtrack.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Jet Sweep

This is false. I just looked up a ticket from DC to Roanoke on Amtrak (took about 60 seconds to find the website and select a fare). One way ticket is $43.00 on Amtrak ($86 round trip) and the cheapest round trip plane ticket is $271. Also if you fly and want a direct flight the only option is United. American which flies into Roanoke at a greater frequency, but it will require a layover.

TLDR: Amtrak tickets are easy to book and cheaper from DC to Roanoke.

Who in their right mind would take a 5+hr train ride from DC to Roanoke - where you'll then need to get a ride another 35 min+ to Blacksburg? The drive from Union Station in DC to the middle of Blacksburg is 4.5 hrs. And at $43 1-way, it's makes no sense financially if you're driving with 2 or 3 people.

I mean, sleeping on a train hungover sounds better than driving.

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I agree that it's a terrible idea, but NCHokieMan said Amtrak was hard to find tickets and that plane tickets were cheaper. Both were false, so I figured I would clear things up.

Counterpoint: Just tried to see if I could take Amtrak from Atlanta to Roanoake, and it's an 11 trip with multiple stops. The cheapest one way ticket is over $100, and to make a Saturday game, I'd have to spend all day Thursday traveling.

Amtrak can be useful for some travel, especially in the northeast, but based on my experience, it rarely beats flying or driving.

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Yeah, Amtrak can be really bad at times. I remember when I first moved to TX I thought it would be cool to take a train back to VA for Christmas since I had almost 3 weeks off. Thought it would be cheaper too. I was so wrong. The trip would be 3 days each way with an overnight in the station and cost like $200+. Flying was $260 round trip. It's only a freaking 18-20 hour drive.

I admit I was somewhat hyperbolic venting my frustration with Amtrak generally. It kind of pisses me off that Amtrak is so expensive, because it really doesn't make any sense to me, and I don't know why other countries can apparently figure it out but we can't.

To clarify, my position is more that Amtrak is basically never the best choice for traveling. For "short" distance trips like from DC to Roanoke driving is slightly more convenient, cheaper, and faster (though I suppose this assumes you have a car). For longer trips planes are both cheaper and significantly faster. If you repeat this same exercise for say DC and Seattle, you'll see what I mean.

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If there was an Amtrak option to Blacksburg, or an actual airport to get there easier would help a lot too.

As someone who lives in DC and goes to 2-3 games at Lane each year, I can promise you that an Amtrack from DC/NoVa to Blacksburg is going to do NOTHING to increase gameday attendance (maybe it's just me, but you couldn't pay me to take an Amtrack train instead of drive.) The drive and tickets aren't the issue, it's the fact that there just aren't enough places to stay. Going to games isn't fun if you've got to worry about how you're going to get to a hotel/Airbnb out in or past Salem if you want to have more than a couple drinks.

An airport I agree with.

Seems like it was a lifetime ago...but when I was a student I don't recall ever paying for tickets - football and basketball both. There was also no ACC network....or ESPN+ with almost every major conference game on tv. If we didn't go...we couldn't watch - unless we were the Raycom game of the week.
We held pre-game parties at our rented house on Center Street. 15 minutes before the game everyone would fill ziplock freezer bags with bourbon, stuff them in our pockets, then we'd walk to the game. ....the party would restart after the game - or in the 4th quarter if the game seemed over by then.

JP

During the 1980s when I was a student, there was a flat student fee that covered all athletic stuff. you just had to wait in line for ticket distribution but didn't have to pay for the tickets individually or even season ticket wise. Of course then Lane only sat 50k and the ONLY games that ever sold out (or came close even) were WVU and UVA. Most other football games averaged about 35-40k (a bit higher when the weather was ideal, a bit lower when it was cold and rainy/snowy. We were an independent in football then too (as were FSU, Miami, Penn State, etc).

For basketball, Cassell seated 10k and 4500 of those were student seats. I never missed a game. The sellouts then were typically Memphis State and Louisville(ah the Metro conference!!). Those games you had to camp out overnight before the ticket distribution day to get tickets (but you knew then whether you had seats so if you didn't you could make arrangements to watch the game elsewhere.(unlike Duke who at the time students would have to lineup outside the door of the game and when they reached the max limit for student tickets, they just stopped letting folks in ).

Now that we are in the ACC for basketball, the ticket demand is higher and student seating is much more limited(I had multiple times being midcourt on the first few rows when I was a student). and for football of course we went 12 + years (from 1999-2012 I think??) with every game sold out. Obviously finances are different today-both for students themselves and for the athletic departments themselves so it's hard to compare different eras. Still, I'm pretty sure if I were a student today, I personally would still do my damnedest to make it into every game I could and be there from before start all the way to the end!

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"

In today's social media culture it better to have one selfie of doing stuff to make other jealous and move on then to do the same thing every week. Big student debt is shifting the perception of college from "what made me who I am" to being a source of negativity to some, and is reflected in social attitudes towards being pro-college. While as a state school, and a technical school, VT largely avoids this issue, the over-all culture trends still affect what is liked socially. College kids now, like they have for generations, like to do what is approved by their peers. Going to college football games used to be the thing to do when in college. Not so much anymore. I think the experience, and certainly the lack of close games and rivalries discussed above may be factors, but some of that is just a culture shift happening with the younger generations - to move away from live sports as preferred entertainment.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I'm not trying to be judgey, but people really should read the article before commenting.

The article was largely about undergrad attendance and why it is declining. Remarkably, most of what the current students were saying/doing was the same stuff that alums like myself and others say all the time. Its not so much a generational gap of selfie generation or "football causes CTE and CTE is bad" stuff. Instead it was things like too many crappy opponents so not worth the time and money too attend. Or game is a blowout at halftime (must be nice to be a Clemson student except for last night), so I'm going to go to a tailgate and party outside the stadium where I can watch the game and eat and drink. Or maybe even, this game is so crappy that I'd spend my free time doing something else away from the stadium.

I've gone through the same decisions myself and clearly others have above too in terms of giving up season tickets to sporting events.
1. TV is so good that you're literally better off on the couch than in a seat. And if the game sucks, you can switch to another one. And there is no commute time and hotel cost.
2. The real beauty of a live sporting event is being there and yelling your ass off with tens of thousands of like-minded fans. And you want a competitive game where your team pulls out a dramatic win at the end (like ND/UVA/UK in reverse). It's not fun to see the team get crushed and it is not even that fun to see them demolish an opponent (I liked GT because those game are more rare but a game like Rhode Island is analogous to watching a movie that you've seen a dozen times before and you know how it ends with all of the twists).

TLDR : If teams schedule a bunch of cupcakes to keep their CFB playoff hopes alive, don't be surprised when fan don't show up. Even at schools with 10+ wins per season.