Monday, February 07, 2005

Does This Make Me a Communist?


I thought I should post this email I sent out yesterday afternoon:

From: Tom
Subject: Does this mean I'm a Communist?
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 15:11:38 (PST)

Unless I change my mind in the next forty minutes or so, I'm not going to watch the Super Bowl: not on TV, not the online radio feed, not even an automatically refreshing scoreboard.

Even more than that, I think this decision can be rationally justified.
(1) I don't have a TV, so watching the Super Bowl is not an almost costless decision. Had I a TV, I'd be popping my keister in front of it and I wouldn't be sending this email. Note, though, that this doesn't distinguish the Super Bowl from, say, the Duke-Wake Forest college basketball game this week.
(2) Alternative sources of television
(A) Friends with TVs. I know if I asked people I'm sure I could find one who would let me watch the Super Bowl with them. However, (i) I don't like to ask people for favors and (ii) most of those people who I'd be more willing to ask live a little away from me. This means an additional hour's opportunity cost, on top of (iii) the ability to properly undertake in other productive activities while watching the Super Bowl at someone else's TV.
(B) Public establishments with TVs. (A)(ii) applies, albeit with slightly lesser force (round trip to bar perhaps 30-40 minutes, rather than a full hour), and (iii) applies as well. There are also a couple of factors specific to this. (i) There will be a guaranteed monetary cost; while if I went to a friend's place, I could bring and consume what I would otherwise consume during the 4-odd hours of the Super Bowl. At a bar, I would be spending money (scarcer, more versatile, and thus more valuable than my time) and obtaining fewer resources than I would if I spent the money at another time and place. This is to compensate the proprietors for various things, like showing the game and the like, I know, but it's a cost to me. (ii) The watching experience will be subotimal. At a bar, there are likely to be several uncompensated for externalities, i.e. crowds, cigarette smoke, noise, and the like.
(3) Alternative sources of media
I've listened to the football games for several years over the Internet. It's certainly not the same. Indeed, perhaps the greatest added value part of the Super Bowl over, say, the AFC Divisional Playoff between New England and Indianapolis is the spectacle associated with it (read commercials), and this specatacle will be missed online. Also, neither New England nor Philly's radio crew is very good.
(4) But it's the Super Bowl!
(i) There's some level of cachet involved in being a bit of sports nut and not watching the Super Bowl. I mean, I'll watch Arena Football, and I'm going to miss the Super Bowl. (ii) In context: I've missed almost every other football game this year. Hell, I even missed TWO entire Titans games (ok, I saw the first 90 seconds of one game, but missed the rest of the game and it was even nationally televised, to go to some shitty luau on Christmas that made me wish I had the power drink enough so that I lost the power to think before the power to walk), so missing the Super Bowl isn't really that big a deal. (iii) I HATE both teams, and want very badly for both of them to lose. The guaranteed result of this game is that one of New England or Philadelphia will win, so a bad result is guaranteed. (Yes, a good result is also guaranteed, but the negative value of a win by one of these teams outweighs the positive value of a loss, so a net negative is assured.) (iv) Related to (iii), the game will be filled with a lot of chatter about both teams. I generally don't like to hear people talk about stuff I don't like and place a positive value on avoiding it.

There's more, but let's just do a balancing test
Plus side of watching the Super Bowl: good commercials
Plus side of not watching the Super Bowl: everything else

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