Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2012

Heard on the Hill: KU prof studies effects of All-Star Game on KC residents’ feelings; wondering about degrees awarded under ‘extraordinary circumstances’; NYT cites KU study on campaign contributions

November 8, 2012


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• Aaron Clopton, an associate professor of health, sport and exercise sciences at KU, likes to study the sociological effects of big-time sporting events on the communities around them.

So when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game came to Kansas City, Mo., this past summer, it gave him an opportunity he'd never had to measure how a national-scale sports event can affect a city's people.

With the help of the Mid-America Regional Council and the KC mayor's office, Clopton used surveys and interviews before and after the All-Star events to find that the game did indeed change how many people felt about Kansas City.

People's pride and excitement about the city increased after the game passed, Clopton told me. Basically, it made them feel better about living there.

However, he noted, one detail could possibly cause some concern: Those feel-good benefits were skewed quite a bit toward whites and males. The effects on nonwhite people and females were less.

Considering that the All-Star Game came to KC after public funds were used to renovate Kauffman Stadium, Clopton said, the uneven nature of the effects might be something to think about.

"When we start seeing some of those benefits not spread about evenly, we could ask some questions," Clopton said.

This sort of stuff matters, he says, because residents' pride in their city, along with their sense of how the city is perceived nationally, can affect rates of volunteering, voting and delinquency, among other things.

Really as a joke, I asked Clopton if he'd evaluated the psychological impact of the Kansas City fans' famous decision to shower New York Yankee Robinson Cano with boos at the All-Star Home Run Derby, after Cano declined to select hometown Royal Billy Butler for the event.

But he surprised me when he posited a theory that the whole booing-Cano episode may have contributed somewhat to those effects of pride that he observed. Fans may have seen the snub as typical disrespect for KC from New York elites, he said, and when they rallied around Butler they were also rallying around their city, perhaps providing a jolt to their civic pride.

"Robinson Cano did a great thing, I think, for Kansas City," he said.

• KU is going to present a degree next week to World War II Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez, 91, who withdrew before meeting degree requirements back in 1952, unable to pay the rest of his way after his GI Bill funding ran out.

That's a real degree, not an honorary one (as the story originally said for a short time Wednesday; my mistake).

Hearing that made me wonder how often KU has awarded degrees to people who hadn't met the requirements, as it is doing here in a move that I'll have to imagine will be met only with applause.

KU spokesman Jack Martin said he believed it had been done a few times before, often in the case of posthumous degrees awarded when students had died before finishing degree requirements. He dug up an example of that from 1995, when standout student Hermann Locke was awarded engineering and physics degrees after he died in a car accident in Chile.

The KU Faculty Senate Executive Committee can grant exceptions to degree requirements, Martin said, under "extraordinary circumstances."

I'd be curious to hear in what other cases this has been done, as I'll bet they make for interesting stories. And I'd like to know if Nez will be the first living person to receive such a degree.

So if anyone knowledgeable out there has some answers, let me know.

• A New York Times story on Election Day that pondered corporate campaign contributions cited some KU research that suggests such contributions aren't terribly effective.

The story said that a number of recent research supports the theory that corporations do little to improve their bottom lines — and perhaps even hurt them — when they contribute to political campaigns.

One such study was conducted by Felix Meschke, an assistant professor of business at KU, along with researchers from the University of Minnesota. They found that companies making big political donations actually tend to have underperforming stocks.

Their study also got a look from Time magazine earlier this year.

• I can't promise that news-tip contributions to Heard on the Hill will increase the value of your investments, but maybe it will increase your civic pride (see how I tied things together there?). So send 'em to


Matthew Herbert 5 years, 4 months ago

How much money did it take this professor spending to realize people were excited that the MLB all-star game was in town? He could have just asked me for free.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Given that it won't return for another 30 or so years, does that mean area residents will think the area inferior for all those decades?

parrothead8 5 years, 4 months ago

Your grasp of the details involved in academic studies is breathtaking. Please, enlighten us some more with your summations of things you haven't read.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 4 months ago

sure - what other extremely obvious conclusions would you like me to draw without the use of state funding? Ask away.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm less concerned about the psychological effects and more concerned with economic effects that sporting events bring to certain localities.

I was listening to NPR last year while they discussed the effects of a single World Series game on St. Louis. Each game brought in "X" number of dollars into the city's coffers in new spending. They translated that to 14 city workers who would not have to be furloughed that year. Of course, that's not just 14 workers. That's 14 families saved from the hardship of unemployment.

And none of that speaks to the benefits of the various private sector businesses that benefit. All the restaurants, bars, T-shirt stores, it adds up in a hurry. All that from one game.

I'll admit, I have no idea how much K.C. had to spend to get the All-Star game here. I have no problem with independent accountants calculating cost/benefit ratios. Then, if it makes economic sense, do it and if it doesn't, back away. Lawrence is currently thinking about a new sports facility. We should look to K.C. and St. Louis and ask, was it worth it? Look to cities with similar demographics as Lawrence and ask them, was it worth it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Entertainment is good. It helps make life worth living. But money spent on entertainment is a finite resource, and if the amount of discretionary income available isn't spent on going to a World Series game, it'll be spent on something else.

The "economic impact" of major sports, and major sporting events, is therefore a lie.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

But we don't live in a vacuum, Bozo. Should K.U. go to the Final Four this year (I believe it's being played in Atlanta), then I might go there and spend whatever discretionary funds I have in their fair city. Of course, if K.U. doesn't get there, then the fans of Indiana or Louisville will spend their money in Atlanta. Either way, money from some outside community and will be flowing into Atlanta, creating jobs there, creating an economic boom there. Should the Chiefs ever get to the Super Bowl, I may head to New Orleans. The point is, my discretionary funds won't be spent locally, supporting local businesses, creating local jobs, etc. That's just a reality. But can we offset those losses in some economically advantageous way. Can we attract money from other communities here? Can we promote basketball tournaments here, that will fill hotels here, fill restaurants here, sell T-shirts here? Again, I would call for independent cost/benefit analysis and then decisions be made based on that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Nothing wrong with cost/benefit analyses, but those that are honest and comprehensive almost always reveal that the cost to area tax payers for major arenas and the infrastructure to support is way greater than whatever economic return the average taxpayer will ever see.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

I recall while living in S.F. during the '90's much discussion about building the 49ers a new stadium. The NFL had guaranteed the '99 Super Bowl to S.F., if they built the stadium. During the many discussions, I recall it said that the economic impact to the city from just that one game would be roughly equal to the cost of the stadium. Of course, economic impact might not trickle down to the average taxpayer. But we're talking about one game, albeit, the biggest game there is in terms of economic impact.

Ultimately, the city did not build the stadium, the Super Bowl was played elsewhere, and a new stadium is under construction in nearby Santa Clara. When it opens, two things will happen. One, there will be an economic boom in Santa Clara, as well as nearby San Jose. Visiting teams and their thousands of fans will stay in hotels in Santa Clara/San Jose, eat in restaurants in Santa Clara/San Jose, buy T-shirts in Santa Clara/San Jose. The second thing that will happen is that for every dollar spent in Santa Clara/San Jose, that is one less dollar being spent in San Francisco. Now if San Francisco blows up Candlestick and lures some factory there, great. But in order to lure them there, they'll probably need to offer them abatements, tax deferments, etc., because if they don't, someone else will. Just like Santa Clara did.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

You're arguing in favor of a shell game, and as you know, the ultimate winner in shell games is the one operating the shells-- in this case, the team owners and others who will make out big time on all the government subsidies that will NOT trickle back down on the taxpayers who funded them.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

Maybe it is a game. But if it's guaranteed that if you don't play, you're going to lose, then you better play the game or be prepared to lose.

I recall several decades ago going to Kansas City Kings games. Whenever I went, I bought a couple of hot dogs, a couple of beers. I still have an old T-shirt. I wonder, what are those guys who sold me the beers doing now. What are the guys who sold me the hot dogs doing. How long were they unemployed after the Kings left town. How much hardship did it cause. Did the stress cause any divorces? Any parent forced to take their children out of the school they were attending? Cut down on piano lessons?

Maybe if Kansas City did build a new arena, some multimillionaire would benefit, assuming we could lure some team here. But so would some hot dog vendor. Some hotel clerk would be hired. Someone has to pour that beer. And maybe if Lawrence built a rec. center, some rich developer would benefit. But so would that hotel clerk in that new hotel on 9th. So would the bars and restaurants. So would the T-shirt shops and the workers inside. Maybe. it's worth a look.

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