For many countries, college sports is run at an amateur level. But for many colleges in the U.S, it is a big business. And it’s not just a money spinner on the pitch.
CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.
It’s match day in a wet and windy South Bend. Fans of Notre Dame’s college football team are in good voice ahead of the big kick-off. Some of these traditions date back some 130 years. Many of the 80,000 plus supporters have traveled hundreds of kilometers to be part of it.
College games have become big business. It’s estimated that the average spend in South Bend goes from $1.5 million on non-game weekends¡ to almost $16 million when a game is on.
“It’s enormous. It’s huge for our local businesses, hotels. Football weekends in South Bend, the six or seven weekends a year that we have, is huge for economic impact. When Notre Dame has a home game, it becomes the fourth largest city in Indiana with the amount of people that the football team brings in, ” explained Mike Franz of the ‘Visit South Bend Mishawaka’ Tourism Bureau.
Local businesses appear to agree. “All the establishments around Notre Dame stadium in general and the South Bend in general, thrive off of it, we live for it. We love it. Game days support a lot of the bars and restaurants in South Bend,” Scott Barry of Dany Boy Beer Works said.
It will take more than the harsh weather conditions to dampen the enthusiasm of Notre Dame supporters. But the college game is not just a major moneyspinner here in South Bend.
Similar scenes are played out across the U.S. But as the business around the game grows, so too does the pressure on the players, coaches and administrators.
Gene Wang, sports writer for The Washington Post said, “The coaches get paid a lot of money at the big major programs. They are under a lot of pressure to win right away. Recruiting is really difficult. There is such a demand for players all over the country now. And it is a big, big business. You talk about professional football in the United States being the big business. College football is every bit as big.”
With a passionate supporter base, it would appear as though the college game is in good health. And some predict there is potential for further growth in the future.
“A lot of the negative publicity that the NFL has received, I feel like people are going back to colleges and universities more so. Just because they feel that is where it started, seems more authentic. So I think we see a lot more growth in college football sport,” Sara Gramata, Executive Lecturer at Loyola University said.
For businesses in South Bend¡ as well as those inside the stadium that would be a further cause of celebration.