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.