Posts of the Week
Each week, we will highlight a few entertaining and/or informative posts from the previous week. Please keep in mind that it is hard to keep track/prioritize all posts so we would welcome input from all Booties. You can make a "Bootie Selection" post as a response to any post that you deem worthy or you can email a link (to the nominated post) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the posts that made this week's list:
Subject: Friday Randoms
1. Nice solid win for the Cardinal. The game wasnt
televised, so the nation will simply look at the score and think
road blowout. And thats a good thing, even if
UW is circling the drain right now. Per Monty this morning, the
team came out flat and he was not pleased with the energy level.
Monty specifically noted that Chris, Josh and Justin really
provided a lift for the team. No doubt CH had his finest outing,
but Im more pleased with Josh putting up solid
contributions. Stanford needs Josh to keep building on that from
here on out. Could happen.
2. No toe-stubbing in the Palouse. I watched a bit of Cal-WSU, and the arena looked dead/empty. Papa and Tolbert commented on how difficult it can be to get up for games where the atmosphere is similar to the local Y. Well, given WSUs record, expect another Y atmosphere on Saturday. I dont really care, as long as Stanford gets the W. I actually feel reasonably confident about this one (while nervous about UW). Curtis should have a big game Saturday, and Joe might get more PT also. Am hoping JC will put up another solid outing (how about 10 and 4?).
3. The UCLA-Zona game was terrific. I didnt know who Stanford should root for from a Farm-centric standpoint (I think UCLA), so I just relaxed and watched a helluva game. Heres the scary thing: UCLA took Arizonas best shot and beat them straight up. True, it was only one point, at home, with a late scrum not drawing a whistle. BUT, Gardner was on fire from outside, Walton played typically strong game, and Ricky Anderson also played well. But it wasnt enough. My conclusion: when Gadz plays a monster game (22 and 16 certainly qualifies), UCLA can play with anybody in the land. What UCLA did so effectively was to hit the glass, and they really limited Arizonas second-chance opportunities, especially late (unlike Stanford). Kapono was totally money down the stretch, and I completely agree with Jeff83 that Walton NEVER should have left Kapono alone in that situation. Heck, JK had just buried two treys to keep UCLA right there. Clearly that was a mental lapse by Walton that potentially cost Arizona the game. A couple other observations from the game: (i) Matt Barnes has cooled down considerably from outside, (ii) Ced Bozeman is playing scared right now, (iii) Lavins substitution patterns remain a complete mystery, and (iv) Walcott is decent.
4. Trust SCs blowout of ASU was attributable, in part, to Storey being out. Expect UCLA to rout ASU on Saturday. That means the Bruins will be coming up north on a high. Which means absolutely nothing for a Lavin-coached team. Still, cant count out the Bruins.
5. SC-Arizona is the biggie on Saturday. Who should Stanford root for? SC? I really have no idea, so Ill probably just enjoy the game on television (if its aired here).
6. Given the Murphys Law of Stanford Hoops, I expect Storey to be back for ASU when Stanford travels to Tempe (maybe his first game back). If AS doesnt make it back, then Stanford has a decent shot at a W.
7. Still dont like the idea of a Pac Tourney.
8. In its focus on centers (which included Borchardt), ESPN also highlighted the play freshman Emeka Okafor. Talk about the one that got away. Ouch!
P.S. Though Arizona would win last night, and indeed, they controlled most of the game. Steve D.'s projections, however, picked the winner. Given that, then maybe it's wise to go with SC over the 'Cats. Wow, that would be brutal for Arizona to drop two...
Subject: Football attendance
Stanford's football attendance is influenced by the fact that
Stanford is a relatively small private school. Obviously, large
state schools benefit from having a much bigger base of students,
alumni, faculty and staff. Stanford does not have those
Relative to other similar schools, Stanford's attendance is actually quite good. Here is last year's average attendance for all of the schools in Division 1A that are similar to Stanford -- private schools with fewer than 15,000 undergrads:
Notre Dame -- 80,795
Stanford -- 51,534
Miami -- 47,162
Boston College -- 42,481
Syracuse -- 41,113
Northwestern -- 34,743
Vanderbilt -- 33,991
Baylor -- 30,601
TCU -- 28,972
Tulane -- 23,128
Wake Forest -- 23,092
Tulsa -- 19,509
Duke -- 19,424
SMU -- 17,386
Rice -- 16,923
Since the Big Game was at Stanford this year, Stanford was in the "up year" of its attendance cycle. However, if you look at a two year average to smooth out the effects of the Big Game, Stanford's average of about 45,000 still would place Stanford near the top of this list.
It's interesting to note that Miami, which won the national championship, drew fewer fans than Stanford last year. Likewise, Stanford drew significantly more fans than Boston College and Syracuse, even though they were top 25 programs.
There were two other private schools that I could have included on this list, but decided to omit. Those were BYU (which averaged about 60,000) and USC (about 57,000). Both of them, like Stanford, are private schools. However, both of them are significantly larger than Stanford. BYU has almost 30,000 undergrads, which dwarfs Stanford's total of about 6,500. USC has about 16,000 undergrads, which makes it two and a half times Stanford's size.
So, the only similar school that draws better than Stanford is Notre Dame. Notre Dame is unique in this respect because of its so-called "subway alumni," who have no affiliation with ND but became rabid fans for other reasons -- often because they are Catholic or Irish, or because they grew up back when Notre Dame used to be a really good program. Notre Dame has so many "subway alumni" that it can easily sell out its stadium every week. But that is an historical anomaly, and ND's strategy is not easily transferable to other schools.
The other schools that out-draw Stanford are big state schools, such as Nebraska, Washington, Penn State, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Those schools have a much larger base of students, alumni, faculty, and staff. In addition, these schools enjoy an advantage in attracting unaffiliated fans. First, they all have many years of winning records. Second, they are all the "flagship school" of their state. This allows the average person to feel some sense of identification with the school. Third, many of these schools are from cities that do not have professional sports teams, or cities where the college teams were well-established before the professional teams came to town. So these teams often are the only game in town (or built an institutionalized fan base at a time when they were the only game in town). Fourth, many of these schools are from demographically stable areas -- areas where many of the people who live there always lived there, so they grew up following the local team. (BYU also fits these four criteria. Although BYU is private, it really is in many ways a "flagship school" for people in Utah.)
Of course, there are a number of big state schools that don't draw big crowds. Typically, those are schools that don't have a long winning tradition, such as Cal. But if those schools begin to win, they have a large built-in fan base because of their large number of students and alumni. So, attendance takes off. Recent examples of this are Oregon and Kansas State.
1. Stanford's attendance is actually pretty good, all things considered.
2. Stanford can draw more people if it wins consistently. Stanford may not have the big attendance upside of a Tennessee or a Michigan because of Stanford's small base of students, alumni, etc, but a winning record -- sustained over several years -- will draw more people.
3. As I have previously posted, Stanford's attendance is dependent in part on the attractiveness of the opponent. USC and Notre Dame used to draw 80,000 when they were national powers; now that they're mediocre, they draw more like 50,000. San Jose State also used to draw much bigger crowds. A resurgence in those programs would help attendance.
4. Night games in September have helped attendance. Over the last 5 years, Stanford's attendance for night games in September is 5,000 higher than the attendance for day games in September.
5. For Stanford to increase its attendance further, Stanford needs to make more effort than a big public school. They have a built-in fan base; Stanford does not. So Stanford must work harder, do more marketing, make more effort to reach out. I think the new coach will help in the marketing and public relations effort. . . .
Subject: Reasons for past trends, optimism for the future
Long Winded is correct -- Stanford's attendance now is lower
than it was in the peak years. Stanford's current attendance
average is about 45,000 per game (more in years when the Big Game
is at Stanford, less in years when the Big Game is at Cal). The
peak years were from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, when
Stanford averaged about 55,000 per game. In two years (1980 &
1981) Stanford averaged over 60,000.
In the last year or two, things have started to improve. Attendance is up, as noted below. Here's my analysis of what has happened since the peak years, and my reasons for optimism regarding future attendance trends.
1. Attendance now is about 10,000 lower than it was 20 years ago. Over half of the decline can be explained by the decline in attendance for Stanford's home games against USC and San Jose State. Stanford used to draw over 80,000 for the USC game (for example, 85,799 in 1980). Now, USC's last three games at Stanford have averaged about 45,000 -- right on Stanford's overall average. So, USC has gone from an outstanding gate attraction to an average attraction -- a decline which parallels the decline in USC's football program. Similarly, San Jose State used to draw over 60,000. Now, SJS draws maybe 38,000 to 39,000. Again, the decline in the SJS program has affected attendance. The USC and SJS attendance declines account for well over half of the decline in Stanford attendance (possibly as much as two-thirds, depending on how you crunch the numbers).
2. Another factor that affected Stanford's attendance was the emergence of the 49ers. The 49ers dominate the Bay Area football market now, which wasn't the case back in Stanford's peak years. I think it's no coincidence that Stanford's attendance peaked in the 49ers' first Super Bowl season and declined thereafter. More generally, there is more competition from pro sports (the return of the Raiders, the Sharks, longer baseball season, etc.).
3. In the late 1970s, most potential ticket-buyers had been brought up on the big three sports -- football, baseball, basketball. Now, kids grow up on soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, mountain-biking, in-line skating, you name it. These are now competitive sports -- check out the X Games. The Bay Area's climate allows kids to participate in these sports year-round. It's a different world.
4. The Bay Area has become a land populated by people with roots elsewhere. Many people have come from other states and other countries. They didn't grow up with Stanford football. In many cases, they didn't grow up with football at all. The Bay Area's demographics have changed, and there are many more people in the area who did not have football as part of their home culture. I can't prove this, but I strongly suspect that the population around Lincoln, Norman, Tuscaloosa, or South Bend is much more stable, and that a much higher percentage of those people grew up rooting for the home team. That makes them more inclined to buy tickets, in my opinion.
5. The pace of life in the Bay Area has quickened over the last 35 years. I've lived here almost that entire time. It's my opinion that kids' activities are much more rigidly scheduled and that their parents are working longer hours. Kids have become more narrowly focussed on particular activities -- schoolwork, a sport, music, whatever. That is especially true of high-achievers such as those in Stanford's student body. Parents have become more focussed on their kids' activities and on work. There is less inclination to just go out and catch a football game. Saturdays in the fall, more often than not, mean soccer games, swim meets, or an extra effort in the office to meet a product introduction schedule. (This is one reason that Stanford's night games in September have drawn better than the day games.)
6. Football on TV has proliferated. I used to see one college football game on TV each week as a kid. If they gave me Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, that's what I watched. Compared to that, I might have been inclined to go out to Stanford Stadium. Now, college football is on the TV constantly, including Stanford's home games. Why go to the game when you can watch the same game on TV? Or if you're just a casual fan, why go to the Stanford game when you can stay home and watch two top-ranked teams play each other, or watch your own alma mater (Michigan, Texas, whatever)?
7. Stanford had many years of winning seasons that helped create a base of ticket-buyers. Stanford did not have a losing season from 1964 through 1980. The high attendance of the late 1970s and early 1980s rode on the crest of that wave. People were more likely to come to the game because they could reasonably expect a victory. More recently, Stanford has been up and down, making a decision to spend a day at the game a more uncertain proposition. Stanford needs several years of bowls to rebuild a winning image. We're on our way to that goal. The new staff needs to keep the momentum going.
8. I mentioned previously the five factors that have aided attendance at some of the big state schools -- winning tradition, status as the "flagship school" representing the state or region, lack of competition from pro sports, stable home-grown fan base, and above all, huge numbers of alumni, students, faculty and staff. Stanford will never have the second, third, fourth and fifth factors (at least not to the same extent as Nebraska, Alabama, etc). But Stanford can try to have the first factor. More than any other single thing, that will help attendance.
9. There are promising signs in attendance trends:
- Stanford's attendance this year of 51,534 was the best in four years (attendance was higher in 1997 due to the 100th Big Game), and the second best in the last 8 years.
- In the most recent two-year attendance cycle (2000-2001), Stanford's attendance increased by about 2,500 per game as compared to the previous two-year cycle.
- As I mentioned above, the move to night games in September is paying dividends at the gate, with an average increase of about 5,000 per game as compared to September day games.
- Attendance for the USC game has rebounded somewhat. The most recent USC game drew over 50,000, which was 8,000 more than the two previous USC games (though it was homecoming weekend, which would have helped).
- Likewise, attendance for the San Jose State game is improving. After 5 straight San Jose State games with attendance in the 35,000 range, the most recent San Jose State game drew over 41,000.
- This year's UCLA game drew over 64,000, which was the best attendance for UCLA since 1981 (Stanford's peak year).
- Stanford's recent success has built a foundation. If it continues, there will be more "buzz" around Stanford football, more excitement. The atmosphere at the UCLA game is an example of what I'm talking about.
- The new coaching staff seems to be much more marketing-minded. They will do the right things to build support, I think -- speaking in dorms, to community groups, etc. Now, if they can put a winning team on the field, I think we will see a resurgence in attendance. . . .