The Hedonic Value of Victories and Attending Games

This subject is something I’ve juggled for the past few months. If it sucks, I blame Carson Cistulli. Not because his Marcel of Joy series probably spawned it, but because everything that goes wrong is clearly his fault. I’d also dish some of the discredit Tommy Bennett’s way. He’s basically the sabermetric version of Jay Electronica and helped me flesh this out beyond its initial stages.

I’ve looked over the Yankees’ gamelogs for attendance numbers as well as the Rays’. The one thing that always stands out is that people go to the games against the Red Sox while nobody goes to the games against the Orioles. The Red Sox were the second best team in the division last year with the Yankees and Rays flanking them. Without doubt, they are and have been a superior team to the Orioles for a while now. Ultimately, we go to games to be entertained and experience joy, so why don’t more people go to Orioles games?

It would seem that a win is more enjoyable to experience than a defeat. I’d rather go to a Rays game where they win than one where they lose. And, I’m not sure if I went to those games against the Washington Nationals last season because subconsciously I wanted to see victories, but I suppose I could’ve been on a losing strike without really knowing it. If I asked a thousand Yankee fans which team they’d rather pay to see live, 95% would say the Red Sox and the other 5% would make vulgar comments about the folks from Boston. But is this rational?

If the goal of attending a game is to enjoy oneself, and we get the most enjoyment from attending victories, then why wouldn’t people regularly attend more games where victory is in higher likelihood? Of course, the obvious answer is that the spread of the odds of victory aren’t so extreme as to attend any game that can be marked down as a definitive win.

Does it come down to the hedonic value of a defeat over the Red Sox, one that a victory over the Orioles doesn’t carry with? Or is there something more? The Orioles tickets are likely cheaper and the seating choices likely more expansive. Fewer people are prone to attend, which means the social aspect is diminished, although there’s probably fewer [expletive] Sox fans too.

Much like I did with the 116 wins versus a world title post, I’d like to pose some discussion questions; I am hopeful none of these result in someone telling me I don’t belong on this site, but I accept full blame if it comes to that. As for those questions:

1. Say you are a Yankee fan and price is irrelevant. Would you rather buy tickets to an Oriole or Red Sox game?
2. Would you pay more money to guarantee that you are attending a victory? If yes, how much more?
3. Do you ever consider the likelihood of a victory when purchasing tickets, or do you base your decisions on availability? Or is it purely on the quality of the opponent?



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