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October 8, 2016: Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) completes a pass in front of 106,428 fans, the second largest crowd ever at Kyle Field during the Tennessee Volunteers vs Texas A&M Aggies game at Kyle Field, College Station, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Do We Care About College Football?

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I’ve heard it all my life…

“California doesn’t support college sports like other places in the country, especially like the Midwest or the South”

“There’s too many things going on here for people to care about what goes on in college football”

“Professional sports run this state and area, no one is worried about college sports”

The same narrative, over and over and over. Year after year, season after season:

Why care about the likes of Fresno State or UC Davis when you can go see the big boys play?

When is the last time you’ve attended a college football game in the state of California? Better yet, when is the last time that you’ve attended a college football game in Northern California?

Tailgated outside Memorial Stadium in Berkeley to watch the Bears take on a rival Pac-12 team, danced among the trees of Stanford or dawned the green and gold of Sac State and threw your “Stingers Up”?

I suppose, I should probably ask the question in its simplest form: Have you ever even attended a college football game in your life?

I bet if I asked that same question to our neighbors east of the Mississippi River or in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Idaho or Montana(Yes, Montana), I would get a complete different answer. As a matter of fact I know I would, because I’ve asked, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes and I most certainly have been told it all my life! Fans in those area’s care about college football.

I would imagine that if you’re reading this, you are a sports fan, a person who roots for specific organizations, a person who enjoys being entertained by competition in some form or fashion. An individual who feels passionate about their favorite player or players.

A person who identifies with some aspect of their favorite team. A figure who sometimes borders on the line of craziness and slips into the realm of even considering yourself apart of the team you root for, as if you are the 54th player of a football roster. I would also believe you are someone who most likely attended high school and maybe even college.

A person who has affiliated themselves with a school who you root for and take enjoyment in watching that school succeed in and out of the classroom.

I’ll ask you again; have you ever attended a college football game in California?

According to UnivStats.Com, for the school year of 2020-2021, California had 737 active college or universities. NCAASports.Org lists 22 schools in the state of California competing in football in either NCAA Divisions 1-3 or NAIA, which ranks 10th in the nation for total amount of schools competing in football for a state in the country(Pennsylvania leads the country with 55).

As of the time this article was written there are 71 junior college programs operating in the state as noted by California Community College Athletic Association. We all know California is huge not only in physical form but within the population as well.

If you’ve lived in California for any amount of time you would know most separate the state into 3 sections, Northern California, Central California and Southern California, all area’s contain not only many community college’s with football programs but also Division 1 programs also.

The state is absolutely spread out with opportunities to see the highest level of college football.

Ok, the third time’s the charm: Have you ever been in attendance for a college football game in Northern California?

Wait… Did you catch that?

Go read that last question again. Personally as an individual who has lived in different parts of California, Northern and Southern, a person who has lived out of state, in Texas for numerous years and as a born and raised “Sacramentan” I find it baffling that my community for so long has constantly asked ourselves the question, “do we support or care about college football?”

I for one do and I believe my fellow Californians do care about what is going on in the college football ranks but I may be apart of the minority.

There’s a reason why the question is being asked, numbers show that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Area viewership ranks in the middle of the road for nationally televised games, despite being a top 20 market in television. Sac State’s football stadium is one of the biggest complexes in their conference holding a capacity of 21,195 yet it only averages 7 to 8 thousand fans a game.

The fine folks over at College Football News complied a five-year comparison of the last five years pre-covid between Stanford and Cal football attendance.

According to their studies, both Cal and Stanford average a little above 43,000 fans a game, which came out to 69% filled capacity for Cal and 86% filled capacity for Stanford. Could you imagine a Texas A&M game being only 70% filled capacity?

PLEASE… Not even if they were playing a high school team.

California is a special place. I mean where else can you surf at the beach and then proceed to ski the slopes all in one day? We are privileged to have a ton of professional teams spread throughout all sorts of leagues from the majors to the minors and Hollywood, I mean who could forget Hollywood?

We are one of a kind, that’s what makes us special, just like the atmospheres in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl for a UCLA game or a Saturday evening down in Fresno to watch their high powered offense operate.

Maybe it’s that very beach I spoke about that will drag you out to watch San Diego St compete in the Mountain West or maybe it’s those very same slopes I mentioned that will cause you to bypass the snowboarding and have you stop off at Mackay Stadium in Reno(I know, I know, it’s not California, but I had to show some love for our neighbors) and watch the Wolf pack play.

No matter your cup of tea, there’s something for everyone!

For the last time, I ask, do we care about college football in California?