Sports fans know how much our teams mean to us, win or lose, but what do they mean to the economy? And what does the economy mean to sports?
In the last two years, Philadelphia, for example, has known the ecstasy of being the World Series Champions, and the agony of being the runner-up. Undoubtedly, the Phillies' post-season appearances provided an economic boost for the City of Brotherly Love, from ticket and clothing sales, to post-game beverages and even parking tickets.
However, big league baseball's attendance overall was down for the second straight year. For many families, it is hard to justify the price of game tickets, gas, food and souvenirs for a night at the major league ballpark or the NFL stadium.
NASCAR, which was so long billed as the country's fastest-growing sport, may be feeling the economic pinch more than any series. Teams are struggling so much to maintain sponsors, that some of the sport's biggest names, like Petty and Earnhardt have found themselves merging with other teams or even taking cars out of races altogether.
Sports feel the economy as much as anyone. When times are tough, the family's entertainment budget can take a beating.
All the more reason to enjoy local sports, perhaps the best buy of all.
On a fall Friday night, a couple of bucks buys you entrance to a local tradition. Not only do you get four quarters of exciting high school football action, often times riddled with rivalries, side-stories and colorful characters, you are also treated to sideline entertainment, halftime music and visits with friends from the neighborhood.
There may be no better value meal than the fare from local concession stands, with the traditional hot dogs and hot chocolate supplemented with home-spun specialties and home-baked treats.
Then there's the added benefit of having the chance to leave the troubles of the week behind and partake in good old-fashioned fun: cheering for kids you've watched grow up, gasping at close calls and near-misses, and reveling in school spirit and local pride.
Perhaps the best thing about local sports is that it never ends. While football gears up for playoff time, basketball and wrestling are just getting warmed up. Or perhaps you spent the season in the stands for soccer games, and now it's on to swimming or gymnastics meets.
Back on the national front, there may be good news to come: The "Wall Street Journal" reported this week that history indicates an economic upturn when the Yankees win the World Series; some economists said the same thing when the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Still, for sports fans, no matter what happens on Wall Street, there is always a good, wholesome, economically friendly option close to home; you won't even need your credit card.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.