01 April 2009

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.

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At 01 April, 2009 11:37, Anonymous Giannicolus Jones said...

Is this Ms. Bufon in any way related to Gigi Bufon? He's a guy I wouldn't mind having as Crayton's backup.

At 01 April, 2009 11:56, Blogger rke said...

I'm starting now. Thanks for the analysis!

Btw, you should contact Ms. Bufon and remind her that fans will drink more heavily (and more effectively) if Sodexo taps some better beers and sells them on every level of the concourse. A few IPA options would really get things going.

Sodexo's shortcomings aside, I have to say, this is your most compelling and undoubtedly predictive research do date. If you can get that graph to the front office, maybe they'll find a better way to spend some of that allocation money.

Hmm, could the "12th man" qualify as a DP?

At 01 April, 2009 12:03, Blogger Landru said...

Avril Bufon?

Dood. Lucky you're not a hockey blog.

At 01 April, 2009 12:09, Blogger D said...

G. Jones: Sadly, I believe they are unrelated, as Mr. Buffon has two fs in his name I think.

RKE: Glad I could be of use. I am trying to get in touch with D.C. United's people to see if they will, if nothing else, reduce early minute prices on beer based on this compelling research.

Landru: Yes, Ms. Bufon. Clearly you know her.

At 01 April, 2009 12:35, Anonymous I-66 said...

At this point I begin to wonder whether the Barra's beer-tossing goal celebrations skew the data. Principally, do those who throw their half-full beers immediately buy another to make up for it?

At 01 April, 2009 15:56, Blogger jaywag86 said...

I'm with I-66. After the first goal scored, and beer is flying everywhere, the beer vendors seem to come out of the wood work.

At 01 April, 2009 17:07, Blogger Bob said...

"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.

This is not a soccer post. This is a post about my life. :)

At 01 April, 2009 17:35, Blogger Will said...

And anyone that has ever sat with the Barra Brava know that each goal for United results in a beer shower for the rest of the group. Doesn't matter if its a full beer or not...United just scored! Throw it!

At 02 April, 2009 06:50, Anonymous Skippy said...

Okay, show of hands, who thought that they would be considering the statistical implications of beer showers at a soccer match today?

P.S. I'm thankful for the frequent updates and posts.


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