The very excellent Sandor writes to me:
From a maximum utility point of view, who's the right team to root for in the 2010 FIFA World Cup (TM)?
The off-the-top-of-head first order model seems something like
num_native_fans * (joy_of_native_fans_upon_winning -
misery_upon_losing) + num_foreign_fans * (joy – misery),
where the second term is probably negligible compared to the first,
except maybe for Uruguay and Paraguay. The "joy" term probably is larger the longer it's been since the team won? But maybe the misery is less for teams that have never gotten far—wouldn't Ghanaians be
pretty thrilled with a loss in the semifinal?
What are the second order and higher effects? Germany's lost productivity from a long tournament run is worth more in absolute terms but maybe less in utility terms? Do we need terms for foreign anti-fans?—I've heard a surprising number of people express extreme anti-Germany and anti-Brazil feelings, the former for past crimes, the latter for general arrogance.
I'm attracted to the Netherlands and the two 'Guays, which are probably the lowest three in utility terms. Maybe I'm just a misanthrope.
Does Derek Parfit like football?
My view is that a Brazilian victory does the most to maximize happiness, although I worry about the effects on second-order violence.
If you wish to rationalize the victory of a small country team, try the argument that too many young people invest career time in becoming athletes. By having a small nation grab the glory, this wasteful effect is minimized.