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Last modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From economic impact and ticket scams to health and psychology, IU experts share insights about the Super Bowl

Jan. 20, 2012

Indiana University has several faculty experts who can provide insights on various aspects of the Super Bowl, including psychological, health, business and economic issues. Below they discuss the following topics:

• Will the NFL take a financial hit over concussion issue?
• More than a game
• Super Bowl provides short-lived boost to Indianapolis economy
• Beware of ticket scams
• Super Bowl an excellent opportunity to establish a brand
• Which Super Bowl ads will be effective?
• Head banging in sports can have long-term consequences
• Super Bowl offers Indianapolis a new opportunity to market itself
• The Super Bowl will be super cool in Indiana
• The science of zip lines

Will the NFL take a financial hit over concussion issue?

Gary R. Roberts

Gary R. Roberts

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The National Football League may have settled its labor issues, primarily regarding compensation, with the players union in 2011, but a potentially costly issue still hangs over the heads of the league. Long-term damage to the health of former players, in particular from concussions they suffered while playing, threatens to become the next big issue facing the NFL.

Gary R. Roberts, dean of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, says many former players have already sued the league on this issue, and many more potentially could. A hearing on Jan. 26 will involve whether some of these federal lawsuits should be consolidated.

Roberts was the official on-air legal analyst for the NFL Network with respect to the antitrust labor dispute that threatened to cancel the 2011-12 professional football season. The dispute came to an end in August when the league and union signed a new collective bargaining agreement.

Roberts, recognized as one of the foremost experts on sports law and antitrust law in the country, practiced at the firm of Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. -- working with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Jeff Pash, NFL executive vice president and general counsel -- where he engaged in antitrust, sports, labor, contract and trademark litigation. Roberts was quoted in numerous media outlets regarding the NFL labor dispute, including The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. He has also been quoted on a variety of legal issues in The Associated Press, Forbes, Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, The National Law Journal, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and The Wall Street Journal, and he has appeared on "ABC World News Tonight," ABC's "Nightline," "CBS Evening News," ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "Outside the Lines," PBS' "The NewsHour," "NBC Nightly News" and NBC's "Today."

The IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law is at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Top

Much more than a game

Super Bowl XLVI is certainly more than just another professional football game. It's an American cultural event. It can provide a social, shared experience that includes fans of all levels and can involve unusually personal settings.

"It brings people together in an environment where societal conventions about emotion and physical contact are uniquely modified to allow for hugging, crying, cheering and yelling," said Edward Hirt, professor and associate chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. "The Super Bowl is for National Football League fans, much like the World Series is for Major League Baseball fans or March Madness is for NCAA men's basketball fans, a culminating event that has become a unique part of our culture."

An expert on the psychology of professional sports on their fans, Hirt discusses what makes major sporting events such as the Super Bowl so important:

  • The large-scale nature of the event and national attention it has developed make the Super Bowl a shared experience where even casual fans feel the need to be connected and want to get involved. Hirt explains that because of the evolution of the event into a weekend-long celebration culminating in large viewing parties that include expensive and flashy television ads and half-time performances by celebrities, anyone interested in sports pays attention.
  • Hirt adds that the Super Bowl provides social benefits to fans. Watching the Super Bowl, he said, is an experience that has become a socially shared event. The connection to the event and the camaraderie it creates, mixed with the large commitment made to teams and the invested feelings of the fan, will create an emotional roller coaster where the self-esteem of the fan is tied to the success of their team.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is in IU's College of Arts and Sciences. Top

The Super Bowl will provide a small and short-lived boost to the Indianapolis-area economy

"While economic impact estimates vary widely, conservative estimates would suggest an economic boost of $100 million to $200 million," said Kyle J. Anderson, clinical assistant professor of business economics at IU's Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. "More aggressive estimates put it between $400 million and $500 million. This spending represents about 0.2 percent of total annual spending in the Indianapolis-area economy.

"This should lead to a small bump in incomes and temporary jobs as Indianapolis welcomes tens of thousands of visitors. While most of the increase will be in retail and hospitality, the spending should be multiplied through the entire economy, giving a minor boost to many sectors of the economy."

For many retailers, the Super Bowl and events surrounding it will be like a one-time "Christmas in February." Anderson, an economist who closely follows the Central Indiana economy, notes that while the publicity for Indianapolis will be great, "the economic benefits often don't last for long after the event is over. Top

Beware of ticket scams surrounding the Super Bowl and other similar large events

IU Maurer School of Law professor Sarah Jane Hughes, an expert on banking and electronic commerce, says that ticket fraud and Internet scams increase when high-profile sporting events are in the offing.

"Be careful about buying tickets online," Hughes advises. "Some tickets sold online are not legitimate, and this apparently is a growing problem, especially when a really juicy ticket is being offered."

She adds that it makes sense to buy from reputable dealers with established physical or online presences.

Hughes has additional tips for buying tickets online:

  • Use a payment method that does not reveal to strangers your checking account information (no "telephone checks" or ACH transactions), or use a credit card.
  • Even better: a payment method that does not reveal any account information, such as PayPal, or a prepaid debit card that is not linked to your bank or credit card account.
  • The less face-to-face a purchase for high-dollar tickets is, the greater the chances for problems. Hughes adds that debit cards that are associated with bank accounts present different risks to card holders' bank balances than credit cards do. Top

Super Bowl an excellent opportunity to establish a brand

Jonlee Andrews

Jonlee Andrews

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Depending on the intended audience, the Super Bowl remains an excellent opportunity for advertisers to establish a brand, according to Jonlee Andrews, clinical professor of marketing in IU's Kelley School of Business.

"One of the biggest components of brand building is awareness, and if the Super Bowl is reaching the right people and making them aware of your brand, then it can be the right tool for you," said Andrews, who researches brand management and consumer marketing.

A number of start-up firms and dot-com companies have used this major event in recent years to garner awareness for their products, with mixed results. Andrews, who also is associate chair of the MBA Program, Nestlé Faculty Fellow and director of the Center for Brand Leadership, emphasized the importance of having a successful product before developing a successful brand.

"You can have a highly recognized name or a highly recognized symbol, but your eventual success depends on how meaningful your product is and the quality it has," she said. Top

Which Super Bowl ads will be effective?

Laura Buchholz

Laura Buchholz

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Scott MacKenzie

Scott MacKenzie

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With Super Bowl ads costing $3.5 million per 30-second commercial, another competition will take place off the field on Feb. 5 as advertisers battle for consumers' attention and hope to create buzz for their products.

IU Kelley School of Business faculty members Scott MacKenzie and Laura Buchholz are the co-authors of a major study that explored what determines whether consumers find a television ad creative and the effects of exposure to creative ads. As with other advertisements, creative Super Bowl commercials favorably affect how consumers process and respond to ads.

Their 2007 paper in the journal Marketing Science, "Modeling the Determinants and Effects of Creativity in Advertising," (with two other co-authors) looked at why consumers found certain television ads to be creative and the effects of exposure to creative ads. They found that consumer perception of creativity was determined by the combination of divergence (i.e. originality) and relevance (usefulness to the consumer).

"Ads that are highly divergent may sometimes win awards for creativity, but they won't be effective in the marketplace unless they are also relevant to the consumer. Divergence with relevance is the key to creativity that works," said MacKenzie, professor of marketing and the Neal Gilliatt Chair.

Buchholz is a senior lecturer of marketing. Top

Head banging in sports can have long-term consequences

Athletes in Indiana high schools are mandated by law to have a physical examination by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and head injuries before they can return to practice following a diagnosis of a concussion. This is the first year the guidelines are in effect, and sports medicine specialist Kevin Gebke, M.D., is all in favor of the legislation.

Gebke, chair of family medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the IU Center for Sports Medicine, says concussions can have negative effects for a long period of time.

"Some symptoms are obvious -- headaches, nausea, vision issues -- but more long-term symptoms can include sleep disturbance, depression and diminished balance," Gebke said. "Some of the injuries from a concussion can be difficult to assess. Sports physicians use specific evaluation tools to determine when an athlete should return to practice."

  • One of those tools is a neuropsychiatric test called ImPACT. Developed at the University of Pittsburgh, the testing tool was first adopted by the National Hockey League. Used by the National Football League, other professional sports, and high school and college teams, the computer-generated test requires a baseline to evaluate things such as reaction time, memory and recall, and visual motor skills.
  • Gebke says the field of sports medicine has changed its stance in the past decade over the serious, sustained effects of concussions. "We didn't realize how many people suffer the effects of the injury long after we thought the symptoms of concussion had cleared," he said.
  • He also recommends "cognitive rest" for individuals recovering from a concussion. Research has yet to determine how long mental exercise, such as computer games, can affect the recovery process, but there is evidence it is important. Top

A unique marketing opportunity for Indianapolis

Kimberly A. Donahue

Kimberly A. Donahue

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For the city of Indianapolis, the Super Bowl offers a new opportunity to market itself, but as with the game in Dallas/Fort Worth a year ago, it also presents a potential for negative public relations, cautions Kimberly Donahue, a senior lecturer in marketing at the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis.

"Anytime that something negative happens, particularly if it is out of our control, then the first thing that the city needs to do is acknowledge it and then counter it with a bigger positive," Donahue said. For example, if snow becomes an issue in the days leading up the game, how the city deals with it head-on could be something people talk about -- as a positive.

As the game approaches, Hoosiers will begin to see their state capital in a new way. "We're going to be seeing our city through the eyes of the visitors," Donahue said. "We're going to be hearing reports on a national level of this perception, and that perception's going to influence Hoosiers -- especially those in Central Indiana -- and what we think of our city going forward."

She said the fact that the city is offering so many free activities and opportunities for local residents to be involved gives them more ownership of the event. "We're more vested in making this a success," she added. Top

The Super Bowl will be super cool in Indiana -- in more ways than one

The festivities in early February can be lots of fun for fans of all ages, but revelers should be aware that cold weather can lead to health issues such as frostbite. Dehydration also can be an issue -- particularly for revelers drinking numerous alcoholic beverages.

Children included in the outdoor activities on Georgia Street or in the tailgating lots are more susceptible to cold than adults, so parents should make sure kids are appropriately attired for the weather conditions. Kevin Gebke, M.D., says it only takes a moment to remind children to wear a hat and gloves. Top

The science of zip lines

Tickets for the Super Bowl Village's zip line rides are selling fast, officials say. What makes it so popular?

"This is an exciting activity," said Jie Chen, professor and chair of mechanical engineering in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. "It allows a person to 'fly,' which makes it attractive. However, there are safety issues. It must be handled by professionals."

The speed of the gravity-powered ride is determined by the level of inclination, Chen says.

"The steeper the angle, the higher the speed," he said. Top