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Mississippi State Sports and Freakonomics

In 2009, my wife bought me a book entitled Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and since then, I've related daily news, activities, and pop culture stories to the study of economics. Because I teach economics on the secondary level, I'm fairly familiar with basic economics concepts as well as pop culture, but what if we related a Freakonomics approach to Mississippi State athletics and its recent sports news? might even learn something about everyones favorite mandatory subject from college in the process:

term: utility

definition: The want-satisfying power of a good or service

MSU example: Win or lose, fans of MSU strive to get this from their school. Do we always reach satisfaction? Eh. Not always. Sometimes it's a win, and sometimes it's an epic hot dog from The Hump's concession stands. But when we maximize our utility in anything Bulldog related, it's a thing of beauty and it's what keeps us coming back.

term: competition

definition: The presence in a market of independent buyers and sellers competing with one another along with the freedom of buyers and sellers to enter and leave the market.

MSU example: Anytime MSU battles a big name (UK in basketball, UF in baseball, or LSU/Alabama in football) or a rival such as The School Up North, competition rears its sometimes ugly, little head. But no matter who it is, it drives the essence of MSU athletics.

term: opportunity costs

definition: The amount of other products that must be foregone or sacrificed to produce a unit of a product

MSU example: Take MSU's new basketball coaching hire, for example. Scott Stricklin has taken quite a few jabs from fans about this individual choice (which is another term). He took a chance and selected a man that has little to no fan loyalty or head coaching experience. We may never know which, if any, big names were in the running. What will this cost State? Recruits? Fans? We will find out, but it will certainly cost us something. What's even more interesting is what will we benefit? More wins? A competitive team? Not sure yet. You always shoot for your benefits to outweigh your costs.

term: negative/positive externalities

definition: A cost or benefit from production or consumption, accruing without compensation to someone other than the buyers and sellers of the product

MSU example: This concept is gold. If many fans accepted this notion (especially those who have Twitter or Facebook) they could more easily accept an outcome, good or bad, understanding their lack of control. Listen: unless you're a coach or an athlete for MSU, there's absolutely nothing you can do to change how a game will start or finish. We are a third-party but we definitely get spillovers from players, games, and sporting situations we have nothing to do with. Sometimes it's good...sometimes it's horrid. You roll with the punches, Dawgs.

These are just micro-samples of my daily random observations comparing and contrasting Mississippi State and its "interesting" sports history. One thing is for sure for any long-time State fan: if you demand greatness you'll be supplied with some form of craziness no matter the sport, season, or year.