Issue 5, Semester 2, 2019
I’m not a fan of sport. In fact, I’m one of those people who finds contrarian pride in actively broadcasting how much they don’t like sport. I even pretend to not understand sport with my friends to boost my image as ‘the-anti-sport-guy.’ You know exactly the sort of person I’m talking about. Well, last weekend my friends took me to go and see a game of AFL; Essendon v Collingwood at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Apparently, it was an important game — I wouldn’t know, or at least I’ll pretend not to, because there’s nothing cooler than people who don’t have fun. In any case, here is what I learned from the experience.
Firstly, there is an absurdity to everybody arriving early to try beating everybody else for access to seats. Evidently, AFL fans are suffering under a non-Pareto optimal Nash Equilibrium, because they’re all arriving at 5:30pm to fight over non-reserved seating, only to then spend two hours staring at an empty field. For an eighty thousand strong crowd, this results in eighteen years of cumulatively wasted time. In terms of human lifespan squandered by showing up early, the 2018 AFL season — which had a total attendance figure of around seven and a half million — was the equivalent of murdering twenty-two people. If everybody agreed to only arrive and start jousting for space, say half an hour in advance, there would still be the same number of winners and losers, and we’d literally be saving lives. Attending an AFL game is an iterative event, so a stable cooperative strategy could be formed if we could just find a way to overcome the associated coordination problem. They should replace the half-time shows with game theory lectures.
Secondly, whilst the fans might be skipping the economics lessons, the food-stand operators are not. In order to gain an appropriate immersion in the cultural experience, I decided to sample some of the fine culinary delights on offer. However, the market captivity on display at the MCG makes the Porta Via† business model look like a paragon of anarcho-capitalism straight out of the fevered hallucinations of Murray Rothbard straight after snorting Ayn Rand’s collected works in powdered form. Fourteen dollars for a burger? Well, at least my chips had plenty of salt.
Thirdly, I was astounded at the level of roughhousing on display. I know this is a contact sport, but come now fellas, it’s just a game. At one point, I witnessed a gentlemen on the field push one of his colleagues in the chest! That’s not on, surely? I expected the umpires to descend upon this unsporting display with stern admonishments, yet this roguish behaviour went unchastised! I suppose it’s understandable — as my friends explained to me, all the umpires are inept louts who couldn’t be trusted to referee a game of solitaire. Unless Carlton is playing apparently. Then it’s not incompetence — it’s bias.
At the end of the game Collingwood won, because they footballed the most. The other team’s bold strategy, of not footballing as much, unfortunately did not pay off. If Essendon are in search of a coaching consultant, I am currently offering strategy sessions on my patented ‘kick-score-repeat’ method.
Edgar is the pseudonym of a Second Year JD Student.