David R. Henderson  

Peace at a 49ers Game

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Yesterday I attended only my second NFL game. What a game to choose, with the home team winning in the last 3 seconds with a come-from-behind field goal. Field goal kicker Robbie Gould made 6 field goals on 6 attempts. Field Gould, anyone?

Now to the economic point, which my friend, co-author, and fellow attendee Charley Hooper pointed out: This was a stadium in which there were at least 50,000 people and it was, as far as we could tell, completely peaceful. Many of you probably think: what's the big deal? Of course it was peaceful.

But that's the point. Of course it was peaceful. Fights are the unusual even at a Raiders game. And it's the "of course" that's so striking. Charley quoted Matt Ridley's claim that when 100 chimpanzees are around each other, there is sure to be fighting and pretty quickly. What's different about humans is that we are increasingly learning to get along with strangers. All around me were people wearing various 49er bits of clothing--T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and hats. But interspersed among them were people wearing clothing with Tennessee Titans insignia. I saw zero taunting, let alone outright fighting. (I could have done without the playing of the banjo song from the movie Deliverance when the Titans came onto the field.)

Instead, everywhere there was cooperation. Both times I went to the men's restroom, I was in a line that was at least 50 people long. (By contrast, there was no queue for the women's restroom.) The line moved along nicely. And there were lots of peaceful exchanges of money for beer, food, and my favorite, water.

By the way, we had to go through a metal detector. The TSA could learn a lot about manners from the employees who checked us.


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CATEGORIES: Economics and Culture




COMMENTS (8 to date)
Jon Murphy writes:

Field Gould, anyone?

Well-played.

But that's the point. Of course it was peaceful...

Over the past semester, I did a deep reading Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. This winter break, I am working my way through James Buchanan's Limits of Liberty. Both books look at exactly this point you make: our exchange is largely peaceful. Why is it that exchange is peaceful?

A little personal story: for my 21st birthday, my twin and I went to Chicago. While in town, we went to a Brewers-Cubs baseball game. The two teams are rivals. I am a Brewers fan and my twin is a Cubs fan. Our section was split almost down the middle with Cubs and Brewers fans. The two groups of fans got such a kick that these twins were on opposite sides of the rivalry. The Brewers fans were buying me beer and the Cubs fans were buying my twin beer. Despite this large group of people watching and engaged in a zero-sum game (there is no tying in baseball), there was nothing but laughter, cheers, friendly jeers, and fun as our respective teams battled it out.

This other-regard, this sympathy we all had with one another allowed for this peaceful exchange and interaction. What's more, this was fostered through mutual agreements and respect for each other, even though we had never met and probably never will meet again.

As you rightfully note, it's amazing how peaceful our interactions are with other people. Thinking about the question "why is this?" is very interesting, I think.

David R Henderson writes:

@Jon Murphy,
Well-played, especially “there is no tying in baseball."

Shane L writes:

I salute your appreciation of modern peacefulness! I have also often thought that it would take a mere nudge from a stranger to push me in front of a passing bus or onto the tracks of a rushing train. I have hundreds of near-contacts with strangers each day, passing on busy streets, yet I fear little for my security.

I feel some of my friends take for granted modern peace and prosperity. When they ponder a social ill like homelessness, they assume peace and prosperity are a given, and denounce the status quo for failing the homeless. I fear they do not appreciate the unseen: the wars and raids and plagues that do not happen thanks to modern institutions like free markets.

Airman Spry Shark writes:
I could have done without the playing of the banjo song from the movie Deliverance when the Titans came onto the field.
David, the song is called "Dueling Banjos", and while it was made famous by "Deliverance", it was not composed for it and is a classic bluegrass piece; it could plausibly have been chosen either by the '49ers mockingly or by the Titans sincerely.
Donald Falk writes:

Peace was not the norm at 49ers games when I started going to Kezar in the 1960s. The team was better than it is now, but not by much. By the fourth quarter it often was more entertaining to scan the stands to watch the best of many fights. Those were the days when beer bottles would rain upon the Niners as they returned to the locker room after another loss.

I suspect there has been a similar trend toward nonviolence in the stands elsewhere. It's good thing.

David R Henderson writes:

@Airman Spry Shark,
it could plausibly have been chosen either by the '49ers mockingly or by the Titans sincerely.
If the latter, I have no issue. If the former, I do, but I admit that I might be oversensitive. An explanation: having lived in northern/central California for over half my life and for well over half my adult life, I’ve gotten sick and tired of people, whenever they hear that someone is from Alabama or Mississippi or the South, starting to do fake hillbilly accents. It was funny once or twice; after the 100th time, it gets old.
@Donald Falk,
Peace was not the norm at 49ers games when I started going to Kezar in the 1960s. The team was better than it is now, but not by much. By the fourth quarter it often was more entertaining to scan the stands to watch the best of many fights. Those were the days when beer bottles would rain upon the Niners as they returned to the locker room after another loss.
Thanks for this perspective. Check the link in my post to my piece on a Raiders game.
I suspect there has been a similar trend toward nonviolence in the stands elsewhere. It's [a] good thing.
Yes.
BTW, I loved the way the sun glinted off the beautiful white, with a trace of blue, Titans’ helmets. My wife told me I’m probably the only man there who noticed it. :-)

Charley Hooper writes:

@Jon Murphy,

I expect groans to be heading my way, but have you and your sibling considered becoming Twins fans? As an additional benefit, you could both root for the same team!

Jon Murphy writes:

@Charley Hooper,

Haha! I will root for the twins for exactly that reason.

That said, being from the Boston area, the Red Sox will always be number 1, so it's hard to root for another AL team :-)

@David Henderson,

Well-played, especially “there is no tying in baseball."

Thank you. I was quite proud of that one :-)

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