The price of happiness
Football economics guru Professor Stefan Szymanski, now at the University of Michigan, has estimated that the Euro 96 football tournament made people so happy that it had a value of £165 per person. This is, of course, an average value as some people have no interest at all in football.
Professor Szymanski argues that 'Anything that ultimately brings us happiness can be considered as an economic benefit.' A social historian of my acquaintance used to argue that football was not about happiness but collective suffering for one's team.
Perhaps that was more true when people used to support their local team or at least one they had a personal association with. Now they can choose to follow a top club which can deliver wins with some predictability.
Of course, the pain can be greater when things go wrong. I remember when Charlton beat Liverpool 2-0 at The Valley hearing a London accented supporter saying in despair, 'I was so looking forward to this evening'.
For many fans it seems that the real 'pleasure', if it can be so called, consists in slagging off their own team and manager and often other fans as well. This may serve as a means of compensation for the frustrations of their everyday lives. As the saying used to go, 'It's being so miserable what makes me happy.'
A no doubt apocryphal story tells of the Charlton fan storming out of The Valley after a disastrous first half only to find when he returned to Dartford to find his wife in bed with the younger and somewhat less miserable bloke from across the road. One should never rule out a second half recovery.