Markets in Action

by Russ Roberts on March 28, 2006

in Energy, Sports

I was at the Verizon Center on Sunday when George Mason beat UConn.  As UConn’s last shot went awry, there appeared to be the equivalent of a moment of silence as people realized that the shot wasn’t going to go in, the time had expired and GMU had actually won. Then the place exploded in a roar of exultation. People were jumping up and down, hugging, high-fiving and screaming. I turned around to take in what was going on in the stands behind me and saw a man ten rows up holding up a t-shirt in triumph.  It was beautifully printed in color with all kinds of logos and designs and announced that George Mason was in the Final Four.

I wonder who had the courage to take a risk and print those shirts. Twenty seven bucks on the spot. Cheaper today, I assume. (Get one here for $18.98) But wonderful that they could be had at any price within seconds of the game ending.

James Schlesinger, America’s first "energy czar," once mocked free-marketers as people who believed that if you jumped off a cliff, there’d be someone half-way down to sell you a parachute. I always figured that if enough people jumped off cliffs unprepared, someone would find a way to sell them a parachute. I hope Schlesinger was at the Verizon Center on Sunday.

the nicest tribute I’ve seen yet to George Mason, the man.

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GearDaddy March 28, 2006 at 3:19 pm

Certainly the risk was built into the price (and the cost of making a set of shirts for each possible outcome). The UConn shirts will probably be available on eBay eventually.

Patrick March 28, 2006 at 3:31 pm

On your jumping of a cliff angle….in this market economy someone might just set up a large stunt man airbag at the bottom of the cliff and charge each jumper per bounce-deducted either from your ATM or credit card. Discounts for large groups of jumpers. At the top of the cliff, a risk management firm would set up designated jump areas replete with hand rails, safety lighting and a disclaimer (fee for this risk management service would be billed to some tax paying group like a city, state or federal government). At the safe jump sites would be a photographer/videographer to record your jump and just in front of the jump site you would find an "outdoor adventure" company to give you some instructions, sell your eqipment and clothing for your jump. Yahoo!

TW March 29, 2006 at 9:55 am

***I wonder who had the courage to take a risk and print those shirts. Twenty seven bucks on the spot. Cheaper today, I assume.***

As with most businesses, the championship t-shirt vendors do all they can to minimize risk (at least those who play by the rules and deal in officially licensed NCAA apparel).

These vendors had Final Four t-shirts for both U Conn and GMU on hand to sell after the game. When GMU won, they opened only the GMU t-shirt boxes to sell.

What happened to the U Conn Final Four t-shirts? The same thing that happened to the "Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XL Champion" t-shirts. They were donated to overseas relief efforts, mainly used to clothe people in Africa (thus generating a tax write-off).

As for the GMU t-shirts, yes, they were priced at a premium at the arena…..enough to cover the cost of making the U Conn t-shirt as well. That's why the price there was $27.

As the hours passed, more and more GMU t-shirts were pressed (obviously no more U Conn t-shirts were made at that point), and the price fell below $19.

I'd like to argue that $19 is still too much to pay for a t-shirt, but obviously demand is still very high at this point.

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