I had the tremendous pleasure of attending yesterday’s 6-1 Phillies victory over the Nationals. In the ninth, the crowd learned of the Mets’ loss (and consequent, miraculous, Phillies clinching of the National League East pennant) about five minutes before the scoreboard posted that result, demonstrating the quick response time of social networks. I screamed my head off, and as a result will be hoarse for class tonight. Ironically, I’m teaching acceptance by silence.
But I didn’t put up this post just to gloat. That would be wrong.
Well after the game, I wondered about the interaction between sports victories and legal decision making. I know there are studies out there that correlate a home-team’s victory with a limited bump in local discretionary spending, and that overall wins (and teams) have negligible effects on economic growth. That makes some sense to me. But sports victories certainly have noneconomic effects. Wins change the atmosphere in cities (like Philadelphia) where there are tightly-connected urban communities. Just to relay an anecdote: this morning, on the subway, I observed someone actually give up their place to a woman transporting two small children. I don’t think that happens on an ordinary day in Philly.
Does winning matter for law? It’s not implausible, and it is relatively easy to test. I bet that jury awards today for prevailing plaintiffs are higher than average, and that judges are slightly less likely to grant summary judgment. (And visa versa. I would not want to open a civil case before a Queens jury today.) Civic noise certainly matters to legal decisionmakers: if the narrative around town is “the underdog has prevailed,” that has got to have some impact on the legal system. All of which is to say: plaintiffs lawyers able to choose cases might consider picking clients likely to go to trial in jurisdictions with winning local sports teams.