COVID Surge, Omicron Variant Haven't Affected College or Pro Football Fans

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy tested positive for COVID-19 and won't be in attendance for his team's game at the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. Meanwhile, more than 60,000 fans are expected to fill the Caesars Superdome to capacity that night.

Last Saturday, more than 111,000 fans filled Michigan Stadium in snowy, 30-degree weather to watch the Michigan Wolverines upset the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes. This is while COVID cases are spiking once again, and with a new Omicron variant is beginning to spread around the world.

Michigan football fans
Michigan fans cheer from the stands in the second half of the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

Football fans have flocked to stadiums all season, from high school to professional arenas. On Thanksgiving afternoon, an announced 93,483 fans attended the game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. That's nothing new in Dallas, where the Cowboys have averaged 93,404 fans through six home games this season.

The Green Bay Packers are second in average attendance with 77,984 per game through five games at Lambeau Field, including a packed house Sunday in a win over the Los Angeles Rams on a blustery Wisconsin day.

Here are notable college football attendances last weekend:

111,156 Ohio State at Michigan (30 degrees, snow)
91,595 Texas A&M at LSU
88,491 Florida State at Florida
87,451 Alabama at Auburn
79,897 Clemson at South Carolina
77,349 Vanderbilt at Tennessee
75,072 Kansas State at Texas

Here are some notes about these attendances:

  • The total attendance for these seven college games was 611,011
  • LSU had more than 91,000 at Tiger Stadium for former coach Ed Orgeron's final game. Had the game been even more meaningful, attendance likely would have topped 100,000
  • Texas A&M likely would have topped 100,000 had the Aggies played this game at home
  • The Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama would have surely surpassed 100,000 since Bama's stadium has that capacity
  • Texas had a losing season and still brought that many fans at 11 a.m. CT on a Friday. Had the Longhorns' record been better, and its opponent been better, that number would have soared
  • Florida and FSU was more about bragging rights. But still, at 88,491, it surpassed the Iron Bowl
  • Tennessee had a mediocre 77,000 fans for a rather meaningless game for both teams

There have been a total of 12,037,970 fans at professional football games through 12 weeks this season, and many more at college games.

In Texas, as the state high school football playoffs enter the quarterfinals, there could be as many as 20,000 fans for some games. At the state championships three weekends from now in Arlington, there will probably be well more than 100,000 in attendance for the three-day event.

This happens as COVID restrictions begin to tighten in some places while a new variant has reached Canada. Texas and Florida are scheduled to host lots of college bowl games, including the two College Football Playoff semifinals at the Cotton Bowl (Arlington) and the Orange Bowl (Miami).

COVID may have depleted fans for the 2020 season, but fans have seemed to get their revenge in 2021.