POST #36: Why I’m Glad I Don’t Follow Football

Stoke City: the team I – sort of – support!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have dinner with Professor Bob Hahn (currently at Oxford), and his wife. Among other things, he’s a Behavioural Economist, and it was one of the first times I have ever had a long conversation about Behavioural Economics without boring the other person a lot! He has a website, which is really awesome, and I have found a couple of interesting things on it, which I would like to share with you here.

First, is a brilliant introduction to the Behavioural Economic approach to solving problems and to looking at things. I think it would be useful to look at if you have a rough idea of what Behavioural Economics is but want to know more:

If the whole concept is new to you, I’d explain it as a mixture of psychology and economics – understanding that people are quite often irrational and influenced by motives that we might not expect, and then using data to identify these motives, and to make decisions taking them into account.

And now, on to why my title is relevant. While looking through the website, I found a great blog post written as the European Football Championships started in France last summer.

As you may know (and I am all too aware of at the moment!), Britain’s national exams for 15 / 16 year olds – GCSEs – occur in the summer, and just so happened to coincide with the Euros last summer.

I am the definition of a ‘fair-weather supporter’ for my football team, Stoke City. I note with interest the score if they’ve had a particularly good win, follow them on Instagram for the cool photos of sportsmen in action, and have once been to the Britannia Stadium to watch them live. But I don’t really watch them on telly (the last time I did was when they reached the final of the FA cup against Manchester City in 2011).

Which is lucky for me, because according to a paper written a few years ago by Robert Metcalfe, Simon Burgess and Steven Proud, there seems to be a significant connection between the years when large footie tournaments happen at the same time as GCSEs, and kids who love football getting worse results than they otherwise might have done.

Read more on this here:


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