Estimating the Non-Market Value of a College Sports Tradition

Matthew G. Interis and Naomi J. Taylor

We conduct the first study to estimate the dollar value of a sports tradition. Using a contingent valuation survey, we estimate the net benefits of ringing cowbells at Mis­sissippi State University football games to be about $1 million per home game. The per-person benefits of the tradition are $25 for non-students and $9 for students who favor the tradition, and the costs are $8 for non-students and $6 for students who op­pose the tradition. Alumni and fans who bring cowbells to games have significantly higher values for the tradition. The tradition is continually under threat of being pro­hibited by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the University incurs fines when fans violate the cowbell-ringing rules. Our estimates can be used by the University to compare costs and benefits of preserving the tradition or in current marketing efforts to encourage fans to ring responsibly.

Open Access