Northwestern Football Deserves Much Better Fan Support than it Receives



In their win over the Purdue Boilermakers Saturday night, the Northwestern football team did not draw very well; at all. 

Yes, it was very cold tonight, much cooler than what you usually experience this time of year, but these issues go beyond the meteorological. It didn’t help that the opponent, Purdue, has been a punchline in recent years, but the Wildcats truly deserve a lot better than this! Especially when you consider that Northwestern football holds a very realistic chance of tying the program single season wins record (1995, 2012, 2015).


If the Wildcats reach 10 wins this year it would mark the second time in three seasons and third in six that they hit double digits/the program high point. Yet they’re still not coming close to selling out the stadium. Ryan Field holds 47,130 and here are your attendance figures for the season: Nevada 33,018, Bowling Green 33,706, #4 Penn State 41,061, Iowa 40,036, #16 Michigan State 39,369. 

The actual number of real people legitimately in the stadium on all of those dates was of course far fewer than that, as is always the case with this metric. That’s across the board with every team in every sport.

Yes, about half the fans who show up for conference games on Central Street in Evanston come wearing the opposing team’s color. It’s been that way for awhile, is that way now, and will be for at least the short term future.

However, in past years Northwestern football and (insert B1G opposition name here) have often packed the place. In 2017, that’s just not happening. This is for a team that features the program’s all time leading rusher in Justin Jackson and a quarterback in Clayton Thorson who has broken/will break multiple program passing records.

Thorson also projects to a NFL Draft first round prospect to boot. Yet people are still refusing to show up. And the stadium isn’t the only place supporters of the Cats are MIA.

They also aren’t showing up online (where weather isn’t a factor) to read about their team. In 2017, this issue first appeared after the shock blowout loss to Duke.

The team has recovered but the page views never did, and this isn’t a problem for only this publication. We’ve spoken with sources inside the biggest local, mainstream news outlets and they can assure us that Northwestern football content is not moving the needle in manner that’s just to the talent and accomplishments of the team.


As we wrote immediately after the Duke loss, NU does this almost every year- inexplicably loses a September game that they shouldn’t, only to rally and come correct in November. This narrative is unfolding yet again in 2017.

This Northwestern football team deserves so much better than the poor fan support it receives, and the base itself doesn’t deserve the consistent and stellar team that it has.

Here’s what I would say- show up next week versus Minnesota, and at Illinois again the next week. Read up on your Northwestern football, and when you’re done reading an article that you enjoyed, forward that on to your Northwestern people (preferably from this site- wink, wink). Send that story on to non-NU people, and even non-sports fans too. 

The 2015 team didn’t draw well either, and when they played at Soldier Field versus Illinois in an Illini “home game,” to close the season the attendance was so dreadful that U of I decided to move this year’s game, originally slated to be in Soldier Field, back to Champaign.

Sure that was the fault of both Illinois and Northwestern fans combined, but ’15 was a really good Cats team, and they deserved much better than the attention they received. This team deserves a whole lot better too.


We’re all very aware of how 1995 was essentially year one of modern Northwestern football, and that perhaps memories of the dark times in the 1970s and 1980s might still be affecting perceptions amongst the older demographics. Well, 1995 was already 22 years ago, so you really should have gotten with the times by now.

Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald has led his program to a bowl game in eight of the last ten seasons; so it’s time to stand up and take notice.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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  1. Mike Wallace says:

    Stadium couldn’t be in a worse spot for most fans. I watch every game. Huge fan of the program.

  2. Mike, are you referring to the fact that it’s nowhere near an expressway? or something else?

    it is very close to an L and a Metra stop. of course both of those trains can be spotty with service

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