There’s no doubt that high school football in Texas is among the best in the country. Every year, fans flock in droves to large, college-style stadiums and small town fields to watch their favorite teams take to the gridiron.
Last week, the Allen Eagles and Houston Lamar Redskins took to the field at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington to battle it out for the Texas 5A Division I state championship– the biggest game each year in the state.
The attendance for this matchup? 48,379.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Given this, it can be argued that Texas high school football is actually more popular– and more than likely, more profitable– than many of the lower-tier NCAA football bowl games which continue to limp along from one season to the next in the shadows.
As a comparison point, here are the attendance numbers from all of the bowl games leading up to December 28th:
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL – 24,610
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL- 29,243
POINSETTIA BOWL – 35,442
BEEF O’ BRADY’S BOWL – 21,759
NEW ORLEANS BOWL – 48,828
LAS VEGAS BOWL – 33,217
HAWAII BOWL – 30,024
LITTLE CAESAR’S BOWL – 23,310
MILITARY BOWL – 17,835
BELK BOWL – 48,128
HOLIDAY BOWL- 55,507
As you can see, from these numbers, only the New Orleans Bowl and Holiday Bowl– both played in major tourist destinations of New Orleans and San Diego– had greater attendance than the Texas 5A Division I state championship game.
This is both a testament to the popularity– and quality– of high school football in the Lone Star State, but also, in my opinion at least, the futility of many of these smaller bowl games.
The Military Bowl, in particular, with an attendance of only 17, 835 is just flat out pathetic. Regardless of the fact that there were two mid-major programs with relatively small fan bases competing in the matchup, that number is poor by any reasonable standard.
While many will continue to insist the smaller bowls must stay afloat to ensure as many teams have access to the college football post-season as possible, the attendance numbers suggest otherwise. Money is lost when only 18,000 butts are in the seats, folks.
It’s pure economics.