Winning is everything

November 03, 2006, volume 37, no. 5
By Diane Luckow

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“It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game,” is an adage parents are fond of repeating to their kids. But SFU Business assistant professor Christophe Perignon says his research shows that consumers' prolonged interest in any sport is directly related to whether their national team wins.

“To promote a sport,” he says, “the important thing is not to participate, it's to win.”

Perignon, together with colleagues from the University of Geneva and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, has just completed Impact of Overwhelming Joy on Consumer Demand: The Case of a Soccer World Cup Victory, a study soon to be published in the Journal of Sports Economics. After testing the impact of the 1998 World Cup victory on the demand for soccer in France, they found that consumer demand positively, significantly and durably shifted following the event.

They also found a stronger rise in demand in all nine cities that have hosted World Cup soccer games. Perignon draws parallels to Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Ongoing consumer interest in sports in Vancouver, he says, will improve from hosting the Olympics — but will be far stronger if Canada's teams win during the event.

"Just hosting may not be enough to promote the sports," he notes. "It's of course much more efficient if our teams win."

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