At almost every part of the year the NFL finds a way to dominate the American, and global, market. Last Friday, the NFL Draft took the top cable rating, over the NBA playoffs. The Draft, however, does not just bring in revenue from viewers. Merchandise, and the actual event in Chicago draw money from the fan’s pockets as well. Jersey sales, especially, skyrocket following the draft. As many fans know, Johnny Manziel jerseys eclipsed several prominent players to become the top selling jersey in the NFL’s first fiscal quarter last year, and even now it ranks third. Of course he hadn’t yet touched the field, and still hasn’t as a true starter. Why then, did fans throw $100.00 at an untested player? If they had just waited until the NFL season they could have at least known their jersey would never mirror any on the field.
There are two camps of people who buy Manziel jerseys: Manziel fans and Browns fans. When Roger Goodell climbed the podium to announce the draft picks, Manziel fans were eagerly awaiting the name of the team that would claim their beloved player. This group of people had already made up their mind to follow the kid they liked in college and would buy whatever jersey his name was on, no matter the team. The other group was the remaining Browns fans who endured countless losing seasons. These people just wanted something to inspire their hope in a failing franchise. Manziel represented that hope, and so they hopped aboard. Still, they could have waited. But stuck in such a massive rut, these fans saw any hope as a sure thing. Clearly, Manziel would provide the spark the Browns needed not the milquetoast Brian Hoyer.
Projection bias, however, does not wholly define the problem, these people obviously overvalued immediate gratification. If they waited until August, they would know that buying a Manziel jersey might not be the best idea. Looking to this year’s draft I see a similar situation unfolding.
The main drama of this year’s draft centered around whether Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston would be drafted first overall. Well, the Buccaneers took Winston first, followed immediately by the Titans grabbing Mariota. Both of these franchises appear very similar to the Browns, but most franchises with either the first or second overall picks are not doing so hot. Still, these two teams have been floundering for a few years now. A mere hour after the draft concluded, Winston jerseys went on sale on Twitter. As for Mariota, the Titan’s Pro Shop at LP field and an online retailer have sold 1,000 jerseys combined. NFL.com has not yet published their jersey sales.
With such a heavy reliance on speculation it seems ludicrous to buy a jersey on draft day. While many people succumb to instant gratification and projection bias, many others remain too skeptical to purchase an unproven jersey. Schuylkill Valley Sports, offers optional insurance, $10, on NFL jerseys. It would reimburse the customer if the player is cut or traded. Though this is quite different from buying a jersey with the expectation that the player will start, this idea still alludes to a possible solution. By offering insurance on drafted players, the NFL can assure customers in their purchases. But they wouldn’t have an incentive to do so, since they would effectively lose revenue, especially in the case of Manziel.
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