This article originally appeared in the print edition of the The Boulder Daily Camera on Saturday, March 24, 2012.
The Broncos’ quest for world championships now “starts with Peyton,” says executive VP John Elway. If you don’t follow the Broncos, should you care?
Yes, say economist Michael C. Davis and psychologist Christian M. End, co-authors of the journal article “A Winning Proposition: The Economic Impact of Successful NFL Franchises.” They find a positive correlation between an NFL team’s winning percentage and local per-capita income.
Last season the Broncos won eight games, four more than the previous season. Professors Davis and End conclude that such an increase correlates a $120 local per-capita income gain, adjusting for inflation. How do the authors explain this?
They examine the possibility that higher local incomes contribute to a team’s winning, or that team salaries push up the per-capita income, and conclude that neither is significant. Instead, they suggest that winning teams increase local workplace productivity. The authors then present psychology research supporting this effect.
One study found that a team’s victory or defeat affected how ardent fans perceived their “personal competencies on mental, social, and motor skill tasks.” The positive response to a team’s victory is what psychologists call “BIRGing”: basking in reflected glory. The authors note research showing that positive self-regard and mood contributes to job satisfaction and performance. Meanwhile, ardent fans also report lower self-esteem after their team lost.
Janet Lever’s 1969 study in São Paulo, Brazil illustrates the phenomenon: After a popular local soccer team lost, productivity decreased and workplace accidents increased.
Apathetic about the Broncos? Maybe you shouldn’t be.
Thanks to Michael C. Davis for his assistance with this article.
Photo courtesy of TheBigLead.com.