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Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
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WMSportsBlog Offline
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Post: #1
Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
Ever get concerned with student sections dwindling across the nation? Ever wonder WHY this is happening compared to past generations? Check out our newest article here (definitely think it's relevant for JMU fans too) that addresses the issue head on & let us know what you think.

Curious to hear from folks on these sports boards!

Article: https://wmsportsblog.com/2021/11/23/why-...nger-fans/
11-23-2021 04:12 PM
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Hart Foundation Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
Good take on the topic. One thing to add is fewer kids play sports now so they have less of a connection later in life and less of a competitive spirit born out of contests that have a winner and a loser. If you never played sports, then it is easy to ignore it and not be able to relate.

D-1 athletics and pro sports are made up of elite athletes which has always mesmerized me. They are a select few who have the talent and skill to do what they do. When I see someone do something better than I ever did it, I am amazed and always captured by their uniqueness. But it is the competitiveness that keeps me coming back every time. I want to see the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in an unscripted format where you never know who is going to win on any given day.

The cell phone computer technology has changed our culture for sure. Kids, teens, and adults are never “bored” anymore. 24/7 entertainment in their hand. No need to go look for activity when you have iPhone in hand.
One of our grown sons played high school volleyball but never watches sports. Never.
The other son didn’t play any sports after rec leagues and he only watches Steelers football.
Both have their head buried in a cell phone during all waking hours.
I think that is typical of the younger generation.

Not better or worse, just different. And definitely a less competitive American culture overall due to the lack of lessons taught in sports handling opposition and adversity. Maybe it is better that we are less competitive. Maybe.
11-23-2021 04:38 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
Using a poll of prospective W&M applicants that measures their interest in college sports in order to bolster the article’s argument is a bit of a leading question. Prospective W&M students are not the average 18 year old, nor are sports a huge draw for future W&M students.

Hart’s observation about the influence of online distractions is undoubtedly true for today’s younger generation. Playing “gamer” tournaments of online sports strikes me as wholly unsatisfying, but it might be argued that television played the same role for the generation that grew up in the 50s and sat on their butts watching the “boob tube” instead of playing youth football or little league baseball.

All-in-all there may indeed be a smaller/lower percentage of today’s kids interested in playing sports, or in following them. But so what? The U.S. population is now 2x the size it was in the 50s, plus you have the influence of Title IX that has opened up an entirely new avenue for women playing sports (and their fans), and women outnumber men on U.S. college campuses. Given those facts quality athletes should continue to exist in abundance, even if the percentage of kids playing sports is lower.

Each generation will find its own equilibrium, and “elite” athletes (across the whole range of sports, from the traditional to the X-game types) will continue to find a way to emerge and excel. The individual kid’s hope to earn the big $bucks$ promoted and provided by media entertainment outlets will guarantee it.
11-23-2021 08:47 PM
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Deez Nuts Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
heck with the kids, it's all of us in a way. The adults in my home spend almost as much time with a phone in hand as GenZ'ers do. My parents spend more time watching 24-hour news at night that is frying their brains.

Thanks for sharing and provoking our over-stimulated brains WM-SB 04-cheers
11-24-2021 09:02 AM
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JMad03 Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
Purely my opinion, but I don't buy the argument that kids these days are not competitive.
My son is 7 and more competitive than I ever was. Everything is a competition to him. He has a lot of friends and has played soccer, basketball, and t-ball.
The kids that my son is playing/hanging out with: I would say a very slim amount of them are not competitive. The rest of them are competitive as hell. Especially with basketball. They all want the ball. They all want to take the last shot. They all want to be the best on the team.
Say what you want about kids losing their competitive spirit, but I call complete BS on that.

In my opinion, it's more about convenience. Not every game used to be accessible to watch. Now we can watch games far easier than we ever could. When you have the option of staying home and watching a game and sitting in the rain to watch it, the majority are going to stay dry. Not only that, but at home you can watch more games. Usually when I attend a game, I miss other games and some people may prefer quantity.
Another huge key to this is the experience. The experience of watching a game on TV is better than it ever has been. I still prefer going to games, but it's a far better experience watching at home than it ever has been. The closer and closer those experiences come to one another, the more likely people will choose convenience over attending... even if the experience of the game isn't on par.
(This post was last modified: 11-24-2021 09:21 AM by JMad03.)
11-24-2021 09:15 AM
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formerjmusprinter84 Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
A decent % of my HS track & field athletes are very competitive and strive to win individual District, Region and some State titles and have a couple that are National caliber. Now as far as athletes that follow the sport in general to any extent, that group is much smaller. A lot of them do track & field only which is unusual but some swim, wrestle, play soccer and I get a handful of basketball players and a ridiculously small amount of football players (the school hasn't had a .500 or above season in about 10 years). I ban cell phones at practices but they still sneak and pull them out sometimes. Cannot be away from them for a couple of hours.
11-24-2021 09:27 AM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-23-2021 04:38 PM)Hart Foundation Wrote:  Good take on the topic. One thing to add is fewer kids play sports now so they have less of a connection later in life and less of a competitive spirit born out of contests that have a winner and a loser. If you never played sports, then it is easy to ignore it and not be able to relate.

D-1 athletics and pro sports are made up of elite athletes which has always mesmerized me. They are a select few who have the talent and skill to do what they do. When I see someone do something better than I ever did it, I am amazed and always captured by their uniqueness. But it is the competitiveness that keeps me coming back every time. I want to see the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in an unscripted format where you never know who is going to win on any given day.

The cell phone computer technology has changed our culture for sure. Kids, teens, and adults are never “bored” anymore. 24/7 entertainment in their hand. No need to go look for activity when you have iPhone in hand.
One of our grown sons played high school volleyball but never watches sports. Never.
The other son didn’t play any sports after rec leagues and he only watches Steelers football.
Both have their head buried in a cell phone during all waking hours.
I think that is typical of the younger generation.

Not better or worse, just different. And definitely a less competitive American culture overall due to the lack of lessons taught in sports handling opposition and adversity. Maybe it is better that we are less competitive. Maybe.

Love this take. On your first bit: why do you think that fewer kids play sports nowadays / how much of that do you think is tied back to parents not getting their kids into sports at the same rates as previous generations? Also have to think that the "professionalization" of youth sports & other barriers to entry / progression among youth sports play a role here. I 100% think that in order to cultivate life long fans of really anything, starting them young is key.

Also like your point on the "unscripted" element to live sports -- something the streaming services could never provide in a show or movie. There's something real and raw about it that sports should lean into even more.
11-24-2021 10:10 AM
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All Dukes_All Day Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
There are just so many options for entertainment eyes/dollars these days. You can pretty much find any movie or tv show that ever existed on one of the many streaming services available. I don't agree with it necessarily, but I can see the logic of staying in my dorm and watching a few episodes of Game of Thrones vs spending four hours outside just to see the Dukes cruise to victory over Campbell...and I'm a fairly big sports fan. I imagine it's very hard for people who have little interest in sports to begin with preferring four hours of blowout football in the cold vs YouTube or Netflix specifically catered to their likes.
11-24-2021 01:50 PM
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orange-to-purple Offline
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
They are? Hadn't noticed it in my grandkids, who are primarily boys, about half of whom have played sports at some level, as have the girls. They'll all kick back and watch sports with their dad.
11-24-2021 02:29 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-24-2021 02:29 PM)orange-to-purple Wrote:  They are? Hadn't noticed it in my grandkids, who are primarily boys, about half of whom have played sports at some level, as have the girls. They'll all kick back and watch sports with their dad.

There is data to support that kids watch less televised sports than their parent's (and grandparent's) generation.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-sp...2017-06-30

I think attention spans might have something to do with it. Televised sports has constant breaks in the action that streamed entertainment and games do not. My daughter, who was a big football fan as a child, will not sit through any televised game now; she'll go to HS games in person, but is there with her friends and they're primarily there to hang out. (She does watch F1, but she's on her phone the whole time.) My son enjoys NBA basketball in person but wouldn't watch any televised sports; he does, however, love watching gamers' streams.
11-24-2021 03:02 PM
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94computerguy Online
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-23-2021 04:38 PM)Hart Foundation Wrote:  The cell phone computer technology has changed our culture for sure. Kids, teens, and adults are never “bored” anymore. 24/7 entertainment in their hand.

I don't mean this as a dig or anything, but I have a feeling that's a deceptively easy answer. They used to say that about radio: "kids will stop socializing and instead sit around and listen to the wireless all day.", so while it's possible that smartphones really do make a difference, technology has been blamed as the harbinger of "widespread social isolation" for at least a century. (If not longer -- I'm sure someone thought Gutenberg was going to ruin all the kids with his books.)
(This post was last modified: 11-24-2021 03:23 PM by 94computerguy.)
11-24-2021 03:23 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-24-2021 03:02 PM)DukeQuin Wrote:  
(11-24-2021 02:29 PM)orange-to-purple Wrote:  They are? Hadn't noticed it in my grandkids, who are primarily boys, about half of whom have played sports at some level, as have the girls. They'll all kick back and watch sports with their dad.

There is data to support that kids watch less televised sports than their parent's (and grandparent's) generation.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-sp...2017-06-30

I think attention spans might have something to do with it. Televised sports has constant breaks in the action that streamed entertainment and games do not. My daughter, who was a big football fan as a child, will not sit through any televised game now; she'll go to HS games in person, but is there with her friends and they're primarily there to hang out. (She does watch F1, but she's on her phone the whole time.) My son enjoys NBA basketball in person but wouldn't watch any televised sports; he does, however, love watching gamers' streams.

This is a testable hypothesis - has there been any kind of uptick in soccer viewing? Most of those games have some ads on the crawl and otherwise only during halftime.
11-24-2021 03:24 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
I think it's just more options. Also, I'd be curious to see a comparison of stadium seating capacity today vs say.. 1980's / 1990's for comparison. What a lot of people remember as a, "packed house," may actually be far fewer people in number than what is seen at a game toady.

For what it's worth, with JMU as an example. If you were to plot the average attendance for each season from 1990 - present I'm fairly confident it would be an upward trending line.

That's all I've got.
(This post was last modified: 11-24-2021 03:37 PM by jmu007.)
11-24-2021 03:36 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-24-2021 03:36 PM)jmu007 Wrote:  I think it's just more options. Also, I'd be curious to see a comparison of stadium seating capacity today vs say.. 1980's / 1990's for comparison. What a lot of people remember as a, "packed house," may actually be far fewer people in number than what is seen at a game toady.

For what it's worth, with JMU as an example. If you were to plot the average attendance for each season from 1990 - present I'm fairly confident it would be an upward trending line.

That's all I've got.

It definitely would trend upward. So would the population of the school, the city, and the country, so I'm not sure how to properly account for that.
11-24-2021 03:49 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-24-2021 03:23 PM)94computerguy Wrote:  
(11-23-2021 04:38 PM)Hart Foundation Wrote:  The cell phone computer technology has changed our culture for sure. Kids, teens, and adults are never “bored” anymore. 24/7 entertainment in their hand.

I don't mean this as a dig or anything, but I have a feeling that's a deceptively easy answer. They used to say that about radio: "kids will stop socializing and instead sit around and listen to the wireless all day.", so while it's possible that smartphones really do make a difference, technology has been blamed as the harbinger of "widespread social isolation" for at least a century. (If not longer -- I'm sure someone thought Gutenberg was going to ruin all the kids with his books.)

Perhaps -- but comparing radio to a cell phone (which is the equivalent & more of a super computer back in the radio days) is not an apples to apples comparison. Radio was a one-way communicator, and of course still is; phones allow for socialization through social media.

Obviously there are isolating effects of social media -- but not sure radio is the best comp here.
11-29-2021 04:25 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-24-2021 03:36 PM)jmu007 Wrote:  I think it's just more options. Also, I'd be curious to see a comparison of stadium seating capacity today vs say.. 1980's / 1990's for comparison. What a lot of people remember as a, "packed house," may actually be far fewer people in number than what is seen at a game toady.

For what it's worth, with JMU as an example. If you were to plot the average attendance for each season from 1990 - present I'm fairly confident it would be an upward trending line.

That's all I've got.

Good point...pretty much every college football team worth a damn has increased stadium capacity in the last 30 years. Maybe we've seen a slight regression down during the readily available smart phone era, but attendance is still way higher across the board than 20 years ago.
11-29-2021 04:56 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
Had to check because I knew the trends were going down over the years.
FBS attendance has decreased 12% over the last 12 years. Roughly 1% per year on a slow steady decline.
In 2008 the avg was 46,900.
In 2019 the avg was 41,400

5,500 less fans per game

The article mentioned that today’s FBS avg is the lowest since 1996. So for some time it increased after 1996 and then began dropping in the mid to late 2000’s. I think that was about the time when the first iPhone was launched.
11-29-2021 05:10 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
But Hart, how many new programs have joined FBS over those 12 years? FBS has too many programs now that shouldn’t be FBS.
11-29-2021 07:09 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
That’s true, but if you look at conference by conference, the P5 have also lost attendance and are at 25 year lows.
11-29-2021 07:33 PM
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RE: Why Are Sports Losing Its Younger Fans?
(11-29-2021 07:09 PM)JMUNation Wrote:  But Hart, how many new programs have joined FBS over those 12 years? FBS has too many programs now that shouldn’t be FBS.

This is my theory also.

While the overall population has grown, the number of teams and events competing for our attention has grown even faster. It seems particularly prevalent in metro areas where you may have an NFL team along with a couple FBS teams nearby. Plus there is a barrage of events and entertainment to choose from on television and web.

How many FBS teams can Texas, Florida, or NC truly support? Its darn near silly SHSU is moving up with their 6,000 or so fans.

I hope JMU is the last Virginia FBS team for a long time also, which seems likely.
11-29-2021 07:35 PM
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