Northwestern football is not very popular. Neither is Northwestern basketball. There are a variety of reasons for this; one has to do with a worldly student enrollment base that, frankly, doesn't care about collegiate sports the same way hyper-regionalized schools like Iowa or Michigan or Ohio State. Thus, if students don't care while they're students, they're extremely unlikely to care when they're alumni, and all those 80,000 people at an Iowa football game on Saturdays barely become 17,000 at Northwestern.
Another problem is ticket pricing, which the Tribune's Teddy Greenstein examined today. There are routinely at least 10,000 open seats in Ryan Field, and yet NU charges $50, $35, and $25 for tickets that they should probably, at this point, think about giving away.
But the overriding problem isn't ticket pricing or regionalism or student enthusiasm or even how big Chicago is. It's football, and the quality, or lack, thereof. Northwestern hasn't been good for a long time. Until they are consistently good again, "building tradition" will mean little more than gimmicks.
In the meantime, poor souls like the one below will deem it necessary to ride hard for the Cats and, ahem, "throw the purple up,":
Presumably, this guy -- whose name, for embarrassment's sake, I honestly don't even feel comfortable including -- believes he is doing the Wildcats a service. He likely believes he is helping to build enthusiasm for the program, helping the team to relate with "the kids" today, who like their hats backwards, their bills flat, and their rap videos to include purple handkerchiefs. He believes he's doing the right thing.
He is not. If a non-partisan like myself, who has neither loyalty nor acrimony toward the Northwestern Wildcats, can't make it through said video without cringing at least 33 times -- I counted -- then you should probably let the marketing professionals just do their thing.