Geno Auriemma, Meet Walter Neale & Simon Rottenberg

Earlier this week, University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma criticized UCONN fans for not showing up for the team’s second round NCAA tournament game that was played at UCONN’s home court.  For that game, the announced attendance was about 5,800 fans at an arena that holds approximately 10,000 fans.  Most woman’s basketball programs around the country would love that support at any point in the season.  That is not the case for UCONN. Auriemma said,

“I think it’s probably natural [that the fans not show up]. I guess we need to win more…Everybody loves a winner, you know.”

Winning has not been a problem for the team.  In fact, UCONN may be winning too much.  Over the past three seasons (including this season), the team is a combined 112-1.  They had a 90-game winning streak snapped earlier this season.  The last time the team lost a regular season home game was March 6, 2007.  The program has translated the wins into national championships as well.  Since the 2000-2001 season, the program has won five championships (including the last two) and lost in the national semi-final in two other seasons.  In fact, losing a game or two (especially at home) might actually be a blessing.  As Walter Neale noted in his 1964 Quarterly Journal of Economics article, ”

“When, for a brief period in the late fifties, the Yankees lost the championship and opened the possibility of a non-Yankee World Series they found themselves — anomalously — facing sporting disgrace and bigger crowds” (p. 2).

What a couple of losses might bring is a little uncertainty in the minds of fans regarding the outcome of the game.  With the uncertainty of game outcome being an integral part of the North American sports product, Simon Rottenberg stated in his Journal of Political Economy article in 1956 that higher uncertainty brings increased demand.  In fact, Auriemma offered up a suggestion on how to increase the uncertainty of outcome in his press conference, “Maybe…We should let some of the fans coach the team, maybe a guest coach every quarter.”

Have a great weekend.


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