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Will Tebow Have a $ Effect?

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Jeffrey Beall, flickr

Popular Quarterback Tim Tebow is now a New York Jet, and all the hype surrounding him could translate into dollars and cents for New York businesses.

After a brief contractual impasse, there is a new quarterback in New York.

The Jets officially acquired Tim Tebow late Wednesday night. The highly polarizing player sometimes draws criticism for his unorthodox style, and other times admiration for his off the field persona and unlikely victories in the clutch. But with sports retail stores like Modells already stocking up on Tebow merchandise, his trade could mean more than just another new face on the Jets’ sideline.

Like every industry, sports is inevitability connected to economics. The New York Knicks experienced this first hand with point guard Jeremy Lin’s recent meteoric rise. Madison Square Garden’s stock price hit a record high, courtesy of the Harvard graduate’s improbable success. Although, Tebow’s economic impact is still unknown, Fordham University economics professor Francis Petit says he expects Tebow jerseys to sell off the racks and sports bars to fill up on Sundays with Tebow‘s newest fans. 

Petit, who teaches a class on sports marketing, says much like "Lin-sanity" local businesses will likely capitalize on "Tebowmania." He cites a local sports bar in Manhattan that temporarily changed its name from “Third and Long” to “Third and Lin” in honor of the Knicks’ point guard, “there can be a lot of creative things done if there is excitement,” and for Petit that translates into economic activity.  

But not every economist is buying the notion that professional athletes have a significant impression on the local economy. “In terms of the greater New York metropolitan economy, you can count on a zero impact,” says Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor from Smith College in Massachusetts. And Zimbalist is not alone. 

Michael Leeds, who co-authored The Economics of Sports, says the sports industry is so small Tebow’s impact will be relatively insignificant on the economy as a whole. Leeds says the industry’s affect on the economy in general is over inflated, “if you took all four major North American sports leagues and combined them, they would not be one of the top 100 firms in the economy.” Leeds says Tebow’s influence on the Tri-State will be more social, than financial. 

Both skepticism and optimism surround Tim Tebow as he makes his way to the Big Apple, and not only in regards to football. But Leeds and Petit do agree on one thing; Tebow’s economic impact -- and its longevity -- depends largely on how successful he is behind center. Petit admits that the financial implications of the Tebow trade could be fleeting if he fails to produce, “if the team is losing, even with Tim Tebow at the helm, the excitement will be short lived and the economic impact will be short lived. The bottom line is people want their team to win.” 

 

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