Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why people support a team?

At Diskusi Ekonomi, I use voter's behavior analysis to discuss how far incentives can explain the behavior of an agent. From my very short reading list of political science literature, there are some models to explain one's decision to vote for a specific party or candidate:
  • Proximity of class, demographic, religion, ideas or other characteristics.
  • Psychology -- if one grew up in a Muhammadiyyah, NU, Sukarnoist or Peronist family or neighborhood, then most likely I will vote for PAN, PKB, Megawati or Kischner.
  • Rational choice -- a voter calculates the cost vs. (expected) benefit of giving his/her vote, and use the act of voting as a strategic behavior (reward or punishment).
I wonder if this framework can also be applied to explain why someone becomes a devoted supporter of a football team. Even if the team is, well, a low-achiever. Yes, yes, I admit, I am talking about myself and why I still support Liverpool, despite they are close to two decades without winning the league (two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA and one Champion's League trophy may be consolation prize).

Clearly, the rational choice model doesn't apply very well here. I don't know what I could gain by sticking to them, except for pure satisfaction.

Nor does the proximity model. I am not from Merseyside, so I don' support them based on regional identity (unlike my support for Persib Bandung). And the team doesn't resemble any class, religion or any identities. Some teams may still do -- look at the rivalry between Lazio and AS Roma; Glasgow Celtic vs. Rangers; Napoli or any Sicilian teams vs. the Northern Italian teams.

That leaves me with only the second explanation: psychology. It may be true. I started watching football when I was a kid, they were the strongest English team, and one of the strongest in Europe. Being a new comer, naturally I picked the current champion at that time (my family was not really a football lover, so I didn't inherit the choice from my dad or anyone). And the choice remains the same until now.

Hey, that's the different between fans and supporters, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. here's nyt take on the issue -- with many references to both psychology and neuroscience: