Archive for Friday, September 29, 2017

Editorial: Yes, focus on KU football

September 29, 2017

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New University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod called on Lawrence business leaders this week to help support the university’s football program.

Speaking at The Chamber of Lawrence’s membership luncheon, Girod said KU football can be a key driver of the local economy. He noted that compared with a two-hour basketball game, football is an all-day affair that benefits the entire town.

“Just think economically what it would mean for this community if we could pack that stadium with 40,000 or 50,000 people for every home game, and just the sheer economics of that to this community,” Girod said.

Girod is right — improving football game attendance would be a significant boost to the Lawrence businesses. But before football attendance gets anywhere near 40,000 — much less 50,000 — KU has to put a better product on the field.

Since 2010, Kansas has the worst record — 15-73 — of any team in major college football, and there is a direct correlation between losing and attendance. Consider that Memorial Stadium attendance has decreased every single year for 10 years. In 2008, Kansas averaged 50,907 fans per home game, ranking 41st among all college football teams. Last season, Kansas attendance was just 25,828, ranking 82nd among all teams.

Not only was Kansas’ attendance the worst among the 65 teams in the five major conferences, but also Kansas trailed small schools such as Memphis, Central Florida, Temple, Appalachian State and all three service academies in attendance.

This season, Kansas is 1-3 and attendance has declined at each home game, from 32,134 for a season-opening win over Southeast Missouri to 23,901 for last Saturday’s loss to West Virginia. Kansas has four home games left. Barring a remarkable turnaround, the Jayhawks likely will see continued declines in attendance.

David Beaty is in the midst of his third season as KU’s coach. His record is 3-25. The football team is 10-54 during the tenure of Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger, who hired Beaty and Charlie Weis before him.

Despite the records, Beaty and Zenger have Girod’s support, for now.

“I think we’re on the right path right now and we’ve just got to keep pushing, give it time,” Girod said last week in announcing a capital campaign to raise $350 million for facility improvements, including major renovations of Memorial Stadium. “But I do believe we’ve got to show that we mean it.”

Girod clearly understands the importance of the football program to the athletic department and the university as a whole. But if the university is going to get 50,000 fans back to Memorial Stadium — not to mention raise $350 million for stadium renovations — fans have to believe the football program is getting better. Unfortunately for the chancellor, there isn’t a lot of evidence yet that it is.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Great! So when is there going to be a gigantic orgy of fans for the football team like the "Late Night orgy for the basketball team here in the middle of football season??

Anybody??

Bob Summers 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Leave it to a congenital Liberal to bring up orgies.

I know it has been tough loosing Hef, but seriously, what about the children's safety?

The children do not need to see your rants about illicit Liberal behavior.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Leave it to a congenital fascist loon to make such stupid and useless garble.

Charles Crawford 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Attendance surely has been hurt (1) by starting most games at 11 AM, (2) by announcing game times only ten days in advance, and (3) by eliminating Missouri and Nebraska from the schedule. As I remember, thousands of fans from these states came to see their teams play. I assume that far fewer come from West Virginia. All these hurts were self-inflicted.

Charles Crawford

David Klamet 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I just can't leave this one alone.

The idea that investing tens of millions of dollars to improve things for a few businesses for a couple of hours for seven days each year is one of the craziest things I've ever heard--and I've heard a lot of crazy things lately.

If college football is more important than the obvious alternatives: making education more accessible, providing healthcare, making sure hungry kids have enough to eat.... then the recent political choices in our country become a lot easier to understand.

Don't misunderstand. Sports are a great thing. They would be even greater if more of us got off the couch and participated ourselves. Add that to the list of alternatives: programs that encourage us to be more active and eat better. I'll be the first to admit, I could use it myself.

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