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Everyone knows that college football fans attend games less during losing seasons (for similar results for NFL, click here). But, let’s dive a little deeper into this effect, and see which teams and conferences are the biggest “fair-weathered” fans–if not for pure, unbridled interest, then to have potential ammunition for your next debate with a rival team fan.
For the specific methodology, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Season attendance and win percentage were accumulated for each FBS team from 2007-2016 (courtesy of NCAA). On average, one loss equals a 507 person decrease in attendance (per game). This relationship is (gasp!) not too surprising, but it does help us better understand the exact size of the effect.
A potentially more interesting question: which teams’ attendances are hurt most (and least) by losses? Results are provided in the table below.
A potentially even more interesting question: are there any factors that predict a team’s position on the list?
There are a wide range of teams whose attendances all are strongly affected by losses (e.g., Pitt, Louisville, Memphis, Purdue, Oklahoma St.), but, interestingly, they do not appear to have much in common. Data-wise there were no significant commonalities between teams high on the list, at least in the factors in my data set (results not shown here–they’re boring)…but more research may reveal some interesting insights.
Last, I examined the effect by conference.
Attendance and win percentage were accumulated from 2007-2016 (courtesy of NCAA)
To calculate attendance decreases per loss, I conducted an OLS linear regression for each team.
Stadium changes for each team were handled on a team-by-team basis. For example:
- From 2007-2015: Stadium had a capacity of 50,000 and an average attendance of 50,000
- In 2016: Stadium had a capacity of 55,000 and an average attendance of 55,000
In this case, I changed the 2016 stadium attendance (55,000) to the previous high (50,000). In more complicated cases, some subjectivity was required (please comment for details for a specific teams).