A Faster Way to Win Games Now
I am still tabulating up some info on the fouls analysis, but I can provide some interesting insight into home field advantage, and how it may work to United's benefit this season. If you read the press releases, you know that United has recently signed a new concession contract with Sodexo to provide concession services at United's games. Now, being the kind of person I am, I sent random emails to Sodexo to talk about the concession deal, and was eventually put in touch with Avril Bufon, the Director of Beverage Utilization and Nutritional Consumption at Sodexo. Our conversation was brief, and related to the discussions about the new fan experience at games, but what was more interesting was a discussion about the team's performance and beer sales.
I had begun by asking if it seems that fans purchase more beer when the team is losing (to drown misery) or winning (to celebrate). Now, Avril had statistics on beer sales for the entire 2008 season "to serve as our throughput benchmarks for the upcoming season, to see if we are exceeding previously established rates of return from the prior vendor coordinator." While gross beer sales seemed to be all over the place, she did note that they internally adjust sales based on attendance. And here there was a definite trend: There were more beers (and lemonades) purchased on game days where United won the match.
Now, I didn't think of this much, until yesterday, whenI received from Ms. Bufon some very interesting data. At first, I dismissed correlation between Goals Scored and beverage consumption as a manifestation of the weather: United had a very strong August and June in its home matches last year, which is also when it gets pretty hot at RFK. But more interesting was the correlation between first half beverage sales (they track this data to "maximize the deployment of vendor resources) and goals scored, even when most of the goals are in the second half (this game, for instance)
Even more, check out this quick analysis I through together of some of the data she gave me (consumption statistics are for pregame and in house+vendor sales until half-time)
There seems to be a very strong positive correlation between consumption in just the first half and overall team performance. When I e-mailed Ms. Bufon, she was not surprised, "Oh, it is a well known phenomena. Crowd intensity, which can be increased by drinking and the associated lowering on inhibitions, is a far more potent factor than crowd size. United fans tend to have a reputation for increased intensity, and we hope, increased thirst. It's one of the reasons we bid on this contract." She then sent me a long list to what appear to be psychological studies of this factor. "Drinking helps people believe, and the sooner they are drunk, the faster their belief affects their support at matches. If you drink enough, you can believe anything."
So there you have it. If you want to have an enjoyable United season, then start drinking, and the earlier the better.