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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The consumption habits of the modern sports fan is once again a hot topic following Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's mini-rant about college football's declining attendance.

My thought bubble: Is anyone surprised that this is where we ended up? Because this was always where we were headed. For decades, schools and conferences have been making decisions that benefit the TV viewer because that's where the eyeballs are.

  • Conference realignment has radically rewired the landscape, and it's been done mostly in the name of money — much of it coming via broadcast rights.
  • Media coverage has become more nationally-focused, with top programs and future NFL stars commanding more of the spotlight than ever before.

What Fitzgerald said:

"I think phones, I think technology has been the decline in attendance … It's changed the way a lot of young people and younger fans intake."
"The fans that grew up tailgating and going to the stadiums four hours before games are getting a little older. I think the next generations of fans are more reliant on technology. They'd rather have 12 TVs set up in their TV-watching cave than go to a game and experience the pageantry and the tailgating."

The bottom line, per The Athletic's Chris Vannini: "The attendance decline lines up exactly with the expansion of TV coverage and the at-home experience. It's not complicated."

  • "Attendance keeps dropping because money became most important. Ticket prices, parking, scheduling and especially TV. So don't be surprised when people choose TV."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

36 mins ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.