Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Monday, January 31, 2005

My Sentiments Exactly

I taught my night class this evening. I knew that the Missouri Tigers played Kansas tonight. That used to be the second most anticipated athletic event in my mind (next to the MU-Nebraska football game). I would proudly wear my Tiger shirts and would meticulously use only yellow chalk during a game day. This year is different. I have forgotten when the games start (I didn't realize the KU-MU game was being played during my night class and was over by the time class got over). I don't care if I watch them or not. Nick over at Tigerboard sums up my feelings exactly:

"After finally getting a chance to sit down and watch last night’s game that I had recorded, I have come to the conclusion that the Missouri Basketball season is over. There is nothing left to play for, nothing to motivate this team except for pride, and I didn’t see a whole lot of that in last night’s game.

A zone defense is not a new invention. I imagine there are several good books written by knowledgeable coaches that cover exactly how to attack a zone and not let it swallow you alive. I would even wager that there are a couple of these books sitting in Ellis library as you read this. So then I have to ask, why can’t this team seem to overcome a simple 2-3 zone?

I still root for the team to win and will continue to do so until the day I die. However, I am not all that excited about the games anymore. I miss the anticipation I once felt on game day. I miss wanting to change my schedule in order to be able to watch the game. I want to care again, but right now, it is just too painful.

After talking to bunch of other Mizzou fans, I get the idea that I am not alone in my apathy. No one seems to be interested in the Tigers anymore this season. Sure, some of us will still watch the games, but who is really going get worked up about it anymore? I’ll probably applaud and yell at the TV during the game, but I cannot allow myself to become too emotionally invested in the outcome. I have been forced to become uncomfortably numb.

I don’t know what the answer is. Will bringing in a new coach solve the problems? No one can say that for sure. Quin is a smart guy who learned from one of the best in the game. It seems impossible that at least some of that knowledge didn’t instill itself into Quin. I don’t like the idea of canning someone with potential and I think Quin has a lot of potential.

Of course, the results speak for themselves. Having the potential to win games is not the same thing as actually winning games. I doubt any but the most sycophantic fan is going to be willing to wait more than two more years for Quin to transform potential into reality. There are already many many fans who want to see Quin replaced as the coach.

So, what can we expect at the end of this season? I don’t have a crystal ball, but to answer that question, I think it is important to remember that college basketball is a business. Being a business, all decisions are directly related to the bottom line. If it makes financial sense to replace Quin at the end of this season, he will be replaced. If it doesn’t make financial sense, then he will return.

Now, what elements directly affect the bottom line? Some things that add to the bottom line include donations, ticket purchases, suite purchases, and advertising. If Quin were to be replaced, the buyout of his contract would be somewhere between $400K and $2 million depending on which source you want to believe. Let’s split the difference and call it $1.2 million. The business decision then becomes: will the athletic department lose $1.2 million combined from those revenue sources listed above if Quin is retained at the end of this year?

From where I am sitting, I think the answer is no. Mizzou fans are Mizzou fans and will continue to donate to the department no matter what happens. Some small time donors might withhold their $500 or $1000, but the folks that write the big checks will continue to write the big checks. Fans will also purchase tickets to all the games. The arena might not be full, but almost all the seats will be paid for. The suites are already on 5-year deals, so there’s no danger there. And the advertising is already paid for, so no danger their either.

So, Mizzou fans, no matter where you fall on this issue, it seems like a no-brainer to me that Quin will return next year. So, for the benefit of Mizzou Athletics in general, I would suggest that we all continue to root for the Tigers. No matter what, they are still our team. I don’t see the logic in throwing a tantrum on the boards calling for Quin’s head, because it just isn’t going to happen this year. It might make you feel better personally, but it doesn’t do much to help the team. I know it sucks to see the team mired in mediocrity, but don’t turn into a babbling idiot over something you cannot change.

Just my $0.02."