Category: Freakonomics

How UNM Overcounts Football Crowds

By Daniel Libit

“Attendance” is really not a noun open to semantic interpretation, especially in the collegiate setting. If, let’s say, you have perfect attendance, it’s because you’ve physically shown up for every class. But in the intercollegiate setting, and especially with college football, “attendance” has become a largely aspirational concept.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, average official attendance figures for Football Bowl Subdivsion (FBS) programs in 2017 were 71 percent higher than their actual scanned ticket counts for home games. It’s no surprise, then, that the current scenes of college football stadiums tend to look less huddled than the last lines of the box scores would indicate. That certainly appears to be the case at the University of New Mexico’s graveyard of ghosts, Dreamstyle Stadium.

Unlike most FBS schools, UNM does not scan its football tickets, thus making it difficult to know how big the gap is between the Lobos’ official “attendance” figures and reality. But through a recent public records request, has obtained some illuminating data that not only shows how the university inflates its home football crowds, but how it greatly exaggerates its season ticket sales, as well. In essence, if you already thought UNM’s gridiron situation was grim, based on the established metrics, there’s only more reason for pessimism once they’ve been subdivided. Continue reading “How UNM Overcounts Football Crowds”