Loyal Cougars

Football Attendance, Winning, and the Real Ten-percenters

For whatever reason, there’s this idea out there on the Internets that 10% of any and every fan base are a bunch of knuckleheads. If there’s some bone-headed comment thrown out somewhere, you may see someone respond with, “don’t be part of the 10%.”

More often than not, people are more similar than they think, but I don’t see how making up numbers to make people feel better about how similar they are is helpful. Maybe exactly 10% of every fan base is a bunch of knuckleheads, but how would anyone really know that?

So, while I can’t prove anything about the hearts and minds of the fans who write about their teams on the Internet, I happen have a pretty good idea that 10% of BYU football’s ticket-buying crowd can be referred to as “fair weather,” at least in their home ticket-buying patterns.

First, let’s look at the attendance in LaVell Edwards Stadium since 1994. It’s a little up and down, but overall quite solid for a Western college football team. If 10% of fans are fair weather ticket buyers, that means 90% of them aren’t.

Annual attendance tops out at 65,000 these days, and drops down to as low of just over 58,000.


BYU football attendance

What could be causing this 10% vacillation in ticket sales? Certainly modern amenities like 60-inch HDTVs, late night kickoffs and schedule changes are all up for debate as contributing factors.

Let’s take a look at winning percentage, though:


BYU football winning percentage (through Nov 14, 2014)

Well, hey, there, the ups and downs of that line look somewhat familiar. Tell you what; let’s look at both of them together.



BYU football attendance (blue) and winning percentage (gray).

I think we could be on to something.

When BYU is winning, ticket sales are better. Now, there’s some great websties out there that can show that just because you can draw two charts that look like each other, it doesn’t mean either statist is impacting the other. But, I’m going to go out an limb and saw there’s more than just casual correlation here.

What’s sad for the bandwagoning 10 percenters, is they’re often missing out on the really good seasons. Needing an .800 winning percentage be happy or to get a sellout is probably too high a bar, really. Most people don’t need that though, and most people aren’t in the bandwagoning 10%.

Attendance in 1997 was great after the 14-1, Sarkisian-lead 1996 season, but you can’t go 14-1 every year.

Brandon Doman’s 2001 was a great year, particularly at home, but tickets sales were bit down after a 6-6 campaign in Edwards’ final year coaching.

2006 was another great year and John Beck deserved better attendance than he got, but the 10% of the bandwagon was still getting back onboard after a few down years.

But I do think the attendance ten percenters and the pretend Internet ten percenters have something in common: Ultimately, they both get way more attention than they deserve.

A 90%-full stadium year-in, year-out is more important than a couple rows of cheap seats at the top of the stands.

While a few fans missed out seeing great teams in 1996 or 2006 play live in Provo, there’s still the 90% that didn’t.


  1. C. Taylor

    November 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    The thing with loyalty, bandwagon,10%, etc is that it comes from both angles. I love watching certain actors movies. When I do, I will see that particular movie several times. Occasionally that actor will come out with a bad movie that I will not continue to pay money to see anymore. Sports is the same way. I love BYU, but like many fans I have limited entertainment dollars. If the product is good I continue to go and watch live. If it is not, I stay at home and watch. Fans are often singled out as being un-loyal, however there is a burden also put on the program to be loyal to the fans and put a quality product on the field that is worth the entertainment dollars it demands. If a school adjusted ticket prices based upon success in a given season they would be more loyal to the fans when making decisions. For example, they would probably broaden the net when hiring a DC (as an example) because they know that the risky decision of hiring someone with only high school experience is likely to cost them a lot of money in lost revenue. When a team has a product that shows the programs loyalty to their fan base the base will come in larger numbers. We are not asking BYU to be in a position to compete for a title every Year, but once a decade is not to much to ask that BYU finish the Season In the Discussion of being at-least a top 5 team. Bottom line. If you want fans to show their loyalty by butts in the seats, then the program needs to show its loyalty to the fans by providing quality entertainment worthy of the dollars it asks.

  2. Michael

    November 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Good info but, I still think the 10% referenced is the group who chant: we’re going to win the national championship, we’re God’s team, we are superior to every other team in the state, etc. They make good (as you have stated), informed, realistic Y fans look bad!

  3. C. Taylor

    November 11, 2014 at 10:52 am


  4. Matt P

    November 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Agreed, but I also think recent price increases in tickets are a cause of declining attendance in the past few years. I see that the cheapest seats for the UNLV game are $30. Before independence, it seems like the cheapest seats were more like $15, but maybe my memory is incorrect. It would be interesting to see how tickets prices have changed over the years. As big of a BYU fan as I am, I wouldn’t pay $30 per game for a cheap seat when I can watch every game for every sport either for free on BYUtv or for $30/month on cable.

  5. Brad Madsen

    November 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    The article is spot on, mostly. But this year’s attendance is going to continue to trend downward. Cold weather and a night start, combined with lack-luster record, will push UNLV attendance to a season-low. Savannah State might be the worst-attended game of the past decade. In short, it is going to get worse before it gets better.

  6. Greg Hansen

    November 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    The problem is that most of the winning seasons are a result of playing lack luster teams at lousy times of the day and week. One of the major problems with attendance are the teams we play at home. Yuck.

    I hope we overplay our hand with the B12. There is NO way we weren’t invited because of Sunday play. It had to do with television (ESPN / BYUtv). I hope it was worth it.