The best memory I have was of listening to Man Utd v Barcelona in the second leg of the 1983-84 European Cup Winner’s Cup (ask your dad or grandad!) quarter final. I was nine years of age. United trailed 2-0 after the first leg away to a Barcelona side that contained Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster. I will never forget the atmosphere of that game as it came through the radio that night and it is something that I have not experienced since, especially as TV never really captures the true atmosphere at a game. For the record, United won 3-0 (see brief highlights here) with Bryan Robson scoring twice and Frank Stapleton getting the winner early in the second half.
In the article, Hornby, an Arsenal fan, laments having travelled to Coventry on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon to watch a brutal 0-0 draw that he could have watched live on TV. He then promises to never again go to an away match if it is being televised live. Hornby also states that “I will continue to attend televised games at Highbury, mostly because I’ve already paid for my ticket.”To an economist, it seems that Hornby may not understand the concept of sunk costs, which is a cost that once incurred cannot be recovered, or a cost that cannot be avoided in future. The incurring of a sunk cost should not affect future decisions. Once Hornby has paid for his season ticket, the money is sunk/gone, irrespective of how many games he attends. When deciding whether to attend a home game at Highbury (Arsenal’s old ground), Hornby should trade-off the benefit of attending the game less any travel or other indirect costs, against the net benefit of the next best alternative.
Maybe what Hornby means is that he views attending a game at Highbury for ‘free’ as preferable to watching it on TV, as the two ‘goods’ are, in Hornby’s mind, imperfect substitutes. If Hornby had to buy a match ticket for each individual home game, his decision may sometimes be different if he views them as sufficiently close substitutes. This seems to be what happens with respect to attending televised away matches which will have higher indirect attendance costs.