College Football Attendance Declined in 2021 for Seventh Straight Season

by Chase Thomas

College football is a tradition unlike any other in the United States. After a very abnormal 2020 campaign due to the pandemic, a lot of folks wondered how attendance might rebound in 2021 with most schools going back to 100 percent capacity. However, the numbers might not be what you expect. Indeed, college football attendance declined in 2021 for the seventh-straight season.

In FBS, where there are 130 schools in total, the average attendance was 39,848 in 2021. This was the lowest average since 1981 when it was 34,621. Greg Sankey told CBS Sports, “There’s plenty of, if you will, negativity around the collegiate sports world.” He continued, “People have said, ‘Well, these decisions won’t affect fan interest.’ Well, something certainly is. It’s not just TV. It’s not just COVID. We have to rethink our approach on key issues. That’s almost a Captain Obvious moment.”

There is a lot more at play to these numbers than just more folks want to watch the games at home. It could be a combination of NIL, the transfer portal, the price of admission, and all the changes that have hit college football in recent years.

In 2008, though, college football had its highest average attendance ever. That number was 46,971. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsy added, “We really are competing against the 70-inch TV and the beer that is cold in your refrigerator and no lines at the restroom.” He concluded, “We have to continue to make sure we enhance the game day experience.”

So, Bowlsby’s perspective is that it’s not something that has to do with all the recent changes to the sport in the last few years. It’s harder than ever for fans to keep track of who is still wherein college football, even their own team. Add to that the college football playoff and what that has done to bowl season and you could see why attendance in the sport continues to slip.

Can Georgia Repeat As College Football Champions?

With all that being said, the University of Georgia is still your 2021 CFP champions. The Dawgs won the title after taking care of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship game. Led by an iconic underdog story with Stetson Bennett under center for the Georgia Bulldogs. What about the future for the Georgia Bulldogs?

Can the Dawgs go back-to-back as champions in 2022? With Bennett returning under center for the Bulldogs, a lot of folks think it’s certainly plausible. However, with Texas A&M putting together a big-time class and Alabama reloading questions remain as to whether or not Kirby Smart and the University of Georgia can get back to the big game next season.

Only time will tell if attendance rebounds across college football in 2022.