Over the next few weeks (or, hopefully, months) Winnipeggers will be experiencing Playoff Frenzy. We will buy more beer and potato chips, sleep less and spend hours at work talking about that save that Pavelec made. There has been quite a bit of research on the effects of sports playoffs on a variety of outcomes. Here are a few things that Winnipeg might expect, based on studies looking at similar sports championships. (In no particular order)
(1) More sex. Assuming the Jets win, that is. This article in Science Daily finds that births in Spain increased 16% after major wins by FC Barcelona. The authors note, “human emotions on a large scale can profoundly affect demographic swings in populations, that national or regional events can reduce the weight of reason and increase the weight of passion.”
(2) More Beer. Last year, there was one Canadian team in the playoffs (Montreal) and there was much lament over how this would negatively affect beer sales across the country. With five teams in the show this year, the opposite effect would be the logical conclusion.
(3) Less Crime. The rationale is simple – when the vast majority of the residents of a city are inside glued to a tv set, there are less people on the street committing crime. This makes even more sense when you consider that demographic most likely to commit crimes (young males) might just be the same demographic who are most likely to be watching the games. This paper analyzes crime in Chicago using minute-by-minute crime reports during major sporting events (although not the NHL) and finds a 25% decline in crime during the Super Bowl (with smaller effects for other major events). Moreover, they do not find evidence that this is due to displacement (i.e. crime rates directly after the games do not spike up).
(4) Water Use. I love this graph showing water consumption in Edmonton during the Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Game. I hope Manitoba Hydro is prepared for the simultaneous flushing of toilets that will occur in between periods!
(5) Election of Incumbents. Not so much an issue this time around, but Mayor Bowman might want to take note for the future – the Happiness factor associated with having a winning team has been shown to benefit the incumbent.
(6) Workplace Productivity. Will employees spend too many hours around the water cooler discussing the game rather than working? With these late night starts, will employees be too exhausted to work the next day? The short answer is Yes. Productivity in Winnipeg is likely to fall during the next few weeks. The effect can be large. One study (discussed here found that lost worker productivity during the first two days of March Madness in 2013 was an estimated $134 million. The article goes on to note that the effect may be offset by some team-building benefits (not quantified). So perhaps we will see short term losses in productivity, but some long-run benefits.
(7) Overall Economic Benefit? This is likely to be pretty small. Some businesses (sports bars, beer companies, stores selling Jets apparel) will likely experience a boom, but the increased consumption of these products is probably not new spending, but diverted from other outlets. We might spend more time in sports bars but less time in movie theatres; spend more on Jets apparel but less on other clothing. The fall in other consumption is less obvious since it is more spread out, but the effect is real nonetheless and the overall effect may likely be zero. Consider this news story from last year, when the playoffs were less kind to Canadian teams.
So to sum up – little impact on the overall economy, but a boom to sports bars and beer sellers. Sex up, crime down. Productivity may fall so expect some long lines and slow service especially the day after games. But that’s a small price to pay. As long as the toilets can handle the spikes in water usage, I’m willing to put up with some sluggish Winnipeggers recovering from late nights!
Go Jets Go!