I always have considered myself as a moderate sports fan. I follow the Minnesota Twins major-league baseball team. Last year when they were playing so well, winning the Central Division of the American League and setting a major-league record for the most home runs in a season (307) by a team, I went to about five games at nearby Target Field and watched many more on television. I also follow the Minnesota Vikings professional football team and watched most of their games on television; none in person at their new First Bank Stadium. To a lesser extent, last year I also followed the University of Minnesota football team (“the Gophers”), when they played so well.
Now that the professional and university basketball seasons were terminated because of the pandemic as was the start of the professional baseball season, I have no major withdrawal symptoms. The “sports section” of the local newspaper (the StarTribune) has been reduced to publishing articles about important games from past seasons and new articles about movies and books about sports. Boring!
The other sports news about professional football’s free-agent signings and plans for its upcoming draft of colleges players focuses on the huge salaries and extra cash involved for players I have never heard of. And the NFL’s decision to add another game to each team’s season and two more teams to the playoffs is driven by increasing the league and team’s revenues. Another development driven by the huge amounts of money that are involved. All of that turns me off and makes me wonder whether this is a general reaction that will lead to a decline in popularity of professional football.
Professional basketball has the same money-driven culture with some university players choosing to leave their teams early and “go pro” driven by their desire to make huge amounts of money. Some college players switch universities to enhance their ability to be drafted by a professional team and make more money.
University sports also are under the umbrella of huge amounts of money from television of their games and the large salaries of their coaches. The highest current salary of a major university head football coach is $9.3 million for Clemson University.
The salary of the University of Minnesota’s head football coach, P.J. Fleck, on the other hand, is “only” $3.8 million for 37th place in the national rankings of such compensation.
The Gophers’ Athletic Department does not have the largest budget in the U.S., but is still projecting that it will lose $10 million in revenue (best case) to $75 million (worst case) from different forecasts of cancellations of major sports due to the pandemic. Again, money is the mover and shaker.
No longer, at the university level, are sports played for the love of the game and pride in the university. As a result of these financial factors in sports, the intensity of this sports fan has declined even further.
 E.g., Scoggins, Gophers’ athletic budget concerns signal a complete restructuring of college sports, StarTribune (April 9, 2020).