Notre Dame football: Jack Swarbrick Doesn’t Want College Football Without Fans

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, went on the Paul Finebaum Show and talked about how he doesn’t want a season with empty stands.

On Monday, Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick went on The Paul Finebaum Show and said that he didn’t want a college football season without fans. He said he felt the game needs to be brought alive by a live audience.

This, of course, may not be practical. If COVID-19 isn’t under control by August, then you can’t pack Notre Dame Stadium full of 80,000 fans. It wouldn’t be safe. Swarbrick, being a smart man, must know that he’s saying that if college football can’t have fans it shouldn’t go on at all.

He recognized that a couple of games may be played without fans, but he stood strong that games should not be played without a stadium full of fans.

A fall without football would be devastating for college football programs financially. This is especially true of smaller programs, which fund their budgets for all sports from revenue received from the football program. Notre Dame, having a massive base of donations, would likely be in a better position than their peers from a financial standpoint. The Irish will likely survive this economic stress. However, can programs like UMass, Hawai’i, Old Dominion, or UConn? The probability isn’t good long term.

Those programs, who hardly ever fill their stadiums, need the revenue from fans they do get. They need money from advertisers and TV contracts. Without that money, they may need to cut sports across the board, which is a sad thought.

One thing that Swarbrick is right about is that it would be strange to see college football without fans. College football is built on the pageantry and traditions it has inspired. It’s built on fans, chants, bands, cheerleaders, and tailgating. In short, it’s a community affair.

Without the communal aspect of the game, college football loses what makes its experience special. It would lose what makes it better than professional sports.

Even with all that being said, Swarbrick should be on board with a season without fans, assuming that’s what it takes to get a college football season played in 2020. It may not be the all-around experience we love as fans, but it would be better than losing out on a season entirely.

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The experience and product quality do matter. However, fans still want some experience over no experience. Athletic departments are dependent on revenue and playing in stadiums void of fans would cause them to lose a lot of their revenue.