Don’t blame Clemson or Gamecocks but college football attendance down 3.2 percent, biggest drop since 1983 | Columnists

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While you wouldn’t know it from busy stadiums at Clemson and South Carolina, college football attendance took a significant dip in 2017, the largest overall one-year drop since 1983.

Major college attendance — for games within the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision — was down 3.2 percent, from an average of 43,613 fans per game in 2016 to 42,203 for 2017, according to data released by the NCAA.

It’s the fourth year in a row major college attendance has slipped as athletic directors and marketers struggle against entertainment and information technology to attract new fans.

Even the mighty SEC is not immune. While the conference has led college football in attendance for 20 years in a row, SEC attendance fell by 3.1 percent in 2017, by 2,433 fans per game to an average of 75,074.

ACC attendance was off 2.59 percent, a 1,292 per-game average drop to 48,442.

“It’s a technology issue,” Football Bowl Association Executive Director Wright Waters told CBS Sports. “The public is ahead of us every day in what they can get from technology. We have not been able to keep up.”

South Carolina, 9-4 in 2017, gained 1,666 fans on average over 2016. The increase to 78,586 gave USC the 16th-highest home attendance average in the country.

Clemson, 12-2 in 2017, was 14th in home attendance at 80,773. That was down slightly from 80,970 in 2016.

The South Carolina-Clemson game was at Clemson in 2016, at Columbia in 2017.

The major college football average attendance peak was 46,971 in 2008.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff



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