Women’s basketball home-game attendance correlated with success
With the conclusion of another college basketball season on Monday, a fresh wave of data from the NCAA fills the archives. Of the numerous stat lines and trends, one in particular stands out for Princeton: attendance.
A priori, it has been well known that attendance at Ivy League basketball games is smaller than that for the nation at large. Just this past year, the average Division I men’s basketball game tallied over 4,700 attendees. By comparison, the average Ivy League game in the same year barely eclipsed 1,700.
Furthermore, it is also widely recognized that the men’s teams generally attract larger crowds than the women’s teams at every level of competition. For Princeton, the crowd at men’s basketball games frequently doubles, even triples, that for women’s games.
Yet beyond these broad generalizations lies an even deeper trend: a closer look at attendance rates to women’s games — over the span of a decade — shows attendance is a function of the team’s record while the men’s team, on the other hand, draws a consistent showing regardless of performance.
Starting on the men’s side, we analyze the correlation between attendance and the team’s winning percentage over the past decade, where attendance is defined as the average number of attendees per home game, as maintained by the University’s official athletics department. The findings show that, for the men’s varsity team, attendance has been largely independent of success over the past decade. Specifically, the correlation coefficient was under 0.01, suggesting little to no relationship.