When the U.S. takes the pitch against the dreaded Belgians today at 4:00 pm on the east coast, the country will come to a virtual halt. Last week during our confusing win/loss against Germany nearly 20 million Americans watched on ESPN, Univision or streaming. Based on the most recent jobs data roughly 14 million of those people have jobs earning an average of $24.38 an hour. Best-case scenario that works out to $682 million worth of lost labor productivity.
More galling still, based on Wall Street Journal calculations more than 10 minutes of today's game will be devoted to "writhing time;" that's how long on average these teams have combined to spend lying on the grass faking injury to try and draw a penalty in prior games. That's at least $50 million of productivity lost via U.S. workers getting drunk and watching brilliant young athletes trying to draw the sporting equivalent of workers comp.
The impact on stocks so far has been relatively muted. During last Thursday's game against Germany trading volumes fell 25%. Still, the S&P 500 has gained more than .5% during the cup, led by a 20% gain in Tesla and a 3% climb in shares of Facebook. Shares of Twitter gone up by 16% during the cup, in part driven by companies making desperate attempts to "go viral" by tapping into your stream with all manner of World Cup content.
To that end yesterday Waffle House sent a Tweet saying quote "We don't believe in Belgium waffles." To say nothing of suffixes. There's no stat on how much money will be lost in waffle consumption but based on the size of their enormous eponymous breakfast treats it's not unfair to blame Belgium for at least part of the $450 billion a year obesity drag in the U.S. Not to mention the invasion of Belgium triggering World War I.
With the U.S. already out of Wimbledon earlier than any year since 1911 these are desperate times for American sport. If we're going to be throwing our money away watching a sport we don't understand we may as well win. Take a cue from our lads this afternoon: pretend to trip on the copier and hold your shin screaming until your boss lets you go home early. Grab a burger and watch the game. It's your patriotic duty.
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