Behavioral puzzle: Why is the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii?

Other professional sports leagues in the U.S. hold their all-star games in cities where one of their teams plays. Not the NFL, which plays the game in Hawaii. This has not always been the case. The NFL moved the game to Hawaii in 1979 (and the 2009 game was played in the Miami Dolphins’ stadium). In the original version of his 1985 paper “Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice,” (gated copy here) Thaler offers the following observation:

“For years the league had trouble getting players to come to the year-end All-Star game. Many players would beg off, reporting injuries. A few years ago the game was switched to Hawaii and a free trip for the player’s wife or girlfriend was included. Since then, no-shows have been rare.”

Translation: Value of a free trip for the family (retail value $10,000) > Value of a $10,000 bonus for playing in Pro Bowl.

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  • Anonymous

    Not just for being in Hawaii, but being (more or less) after the season ends. It’s hard to get motivated if you didn’t make the playoffs and hadn’t played in a month.