Where have the fans gone? Look around

LOTS of leg room on the visitors’ side of Bolsa Grande Stadium last Thursday as Garden Grove played La Quinta. That’s Jacob Zazueta with the ball (Orange County Tribune photo).

A lot of things have changed as the generations change. Today’s kids don’t know much about pay phones, record stores or even dial-up internet. But have they also left school spirit behind?

Yes and no. Except for a few high profile football programs such as Mater Dei, Friday night lights do not burn as brightly as they used to, at least in attendance. You can go to a game at a stadium that seats 5,000 people and count the fans in attendance almost on your fingers.

We went to a game a couple of weeks and – literally – counted 11 fans on the visitors’ side, and this was for a school one city over, in Santa Ana. A 10-minute drive, at best.

The home side was about half full, but that was homecoming night. A more typical example would find that most games attract, at best, just a few hundred spectators.

There are many theories as to why prep football has lost so much of its audience. Cultural changes, to be sure, are part of it. More kids work these days, and there are many other distractions for fun on a weekend night.

On the other hand, there are also more options to watch youth sports, both for parents and other students. On a recent Friday night, not only was there a football game going on at a local stadium, but also a few feet away there was a night water polo contest, and a bit further, a volleyball match. Each of those events had their own fans as well.

Prep sports have expanded much since the baby boom days. Back then, there was no prep soccer or volleyball, and CIF recognition of girls’ sports didn’t come until 1974. So, the issue may not be that few want to watch football so much as there are so many sports to watch.

Also, what may be happening is that more kids are playing games rather than just watching them. That’s got to be a good thing, too.

Should we call it the Great Eight?

Our rankings for the High Five, rating the football teams for schools in the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area, took quite a shake-up in the wake of the weekend’s actions.

Edison rose back into the top spot in consequence of its 63-0 blasting of a pretty decent Huntington Beach High team. Pacifica dropped to number two despite running all over Kennedy in the Empire League opener. Orange is third after a lop-sided win over Loara.

From there, things really get interesting. Previously unbeaten La Quinta lost by three touchdowns to Garden Grove, and drops out of the top five. Two locals in the Golden West League – Westminster and Ocean View – both lost their conference openers.

Rancho Alamitos, on the other hand, rose based on a big win over Los Amigos in the Garden Grove League, and Santiago looks strong as well. So the High Five becomes the High Five Plus Three.

These should be fun to watch

Looking a bit into the future, this week’s most interesting matchup might be when Orange (6-0) visits Westminster (4-2) in a Golden West League contest at Boswell Field. The Lions lost their GWL opener last week, but just narrowly and would love to knock off the unbeaten Panthers.

Also looking attractive are Santa Ana (5-1) at Ocean View (4-2) also on Friday, and – in the Garden Grove League – La Quinta (5-1) at Santiago (4-2).

Pete Zarustica writes Monday Morning Coach.


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  1. I can tell you why and where the FANS have gone….. Immigrants . Immigrants who have come to Orange county are More Interested In Academics, than Athletics. The Immigrants have no concept of The American way of life, and It truly shows .so Kids that do play however they’re parents work late, or work days, and are too tired to come to practice….My Father worked 2 Jobs and he took time off work to watch me play In two Games……For parents who work, Take time out for your Kids, they will only be kids once…As for the Immigrants, Welcome to America, partake in our culture Don’t like it go some where else……Football is a contact sport, its been played since 1886,before pads Helmets and Insurance .Participate. Have fun…..

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