The simple answer for flagging student attendance at college football games has been to blame technology. Students want to be on their phones all day, so they need better Wi-Fi in stadiums. They want screen time, not time in the sun.
These theories, it turns out, are dead wrong -- at least according to one study. The National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators polled a whopping 24,000 college students, asking them about why they do or don't attend college sporting events, and why.
It turns out Wi-Fi and smartphones have very little to do with those decisions: personal technology ranked dead last in order of importance, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. That begs the question: what matters most to college students?
The answer might have something to do with restrooms.
At the moment, restrooms garner more importance to students than phone service. This likely involves the typical restroom considerations: cleanliness, accessibility, and so on.
Apart from that major study, individual universities are finding similar results through their own investigations.
"Our data tells us that the most important things for fans coming to the game are parking, restrooms and concessions," said Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin to the WSJ, who also noted that fans care about "The nuts and bolts. They still want the basics."
That implies that college football stadiums are getting worse at meeting basic expectations. The WSJ notes that, between 2009 and the start of the 2014 season, attendance at college football games nationwide dropped 7.1 percent.
Some colleges suffered more than others, such as Michigan, which used a ticket-giveaway partnership with Coca-Cola to bring student butts into the seats.
But the selling points that have mattered for decades still affect student decisions to attend the game or watch from home. Considerations like lower ticket prices and seating locations during games are all more important than Wi-Fi and cell service when inside a stadium.
To be sure, venues recognize that Wi-Fi does make a difference to some fans -- and that it could become more influential in the future. But outfitting a stadium with adequate cell service won't solve the more fundamental problems that are driving today's students to stay home for the game.