Yard sales, Supporter’s Shields, and the Endowment Effect

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

It was yard sale day on Saturday.

On the way to some U9 soccer, every house on the block was setting out their wares for neighbors, scavengers, and passers-by. It’s a time-honored suburban tradition the yard sale: let’s give someone else a chance to throw this away later.

Everyone who loves yard sales – this author included, snarky comment notwithstanding – loves them for some variation on the same reason: they can find something valuable for cheap. A Bo Jackson rookie card? An antique lamp? The perfect accent chair?

It’s all there for the taking.

The only difference between someone who didn’t find what they were looking for on yard sale day and someone who did is time: didn’t get there early enough, or didn’t look long enough.

Every now and then though, yard sale lovers will stumble upon a really nice piece that’s just impossibly overpriced. Usually this isn’t because the seller doesn’t understand what it’s really worth, but because the seller fails to understand what it’s worth to someone else.

This is called the Endowment Effect.

One person’s treasure is another person’s trash?

The endowment effect – an emotional bias that causes individuals to value an owned object higher, often irrationally, than its market value.

Is there something in the reader’s home that they value wildly more than any rational market? Given the nature of this website, perhaps it’s a 2010, no BIMBO jersey, a signed goalkeeping glove from Brian Sylvestre, or a piece of the confetti that rained down after the Union’s first-ever playoff win.

All valuable to the holder – as this author’s drawers full of navy soccer jerseys can confirm – and all basically worthless to the rest of the world.

On Friday last week, Union fans held something in their hands for a brief moment that was similar – perhaps not worthless (and also not yet theirs) but not all that important in the scheme of things.

For a brief moment, thanks to a lull in results for LAFC, Union fans held on to the Supporter’s Shield.

Most Union fans likely diminished the Shield – just like this author did – every time their northern neighbors won it. Red Bull won the Shield three times in the 2010s, but for Philadelphia fans the success wasn’t theirs, so therefore it was worthless. Beyond that, the argument against the prize was easy to form, as the league itself doesn’t value the Shield in any meaningful way so why should fans of anyone other than the winning team?

…one man’s trash trash…

Then, all of a sudden, Union fans had a chance to hold the Shield in their hands. Midway through the season in 2020, waist deep in the pandemic but coming up for air during a decrease in cases, fans were clamoring to find meaning in how it would feel to have the Shield for their own – the Shield had value!

Not only that, Union fans got a chance to feel the difference between someone else’s Shield and theirs when a cabal of unknowns tried to take it away (before it was even theirs)!

No one takes our Shield!

…it’s not yours yet and you didn’t even care about it a few years ago!!…


One more stop

The shiny plate the Union held just a few days ago is being held by someone else right now. It’s unclear who will be holding it in a few weeks, but frankly it doesn’t matter.

The Union are out on their Saturday morning yard sale route, stopping at every table along the way and taking what’s theirs. Only the neighbors in Cincinnati and Toronto haven’t been hospitable, and they’ve basically cleaned the folks from DC and Colorado out of house and home at this point.

But here’s the thing: whether or not they end up taking that large, fancy dining plate from their gaudy Angelino neighbors is neither here nor there. There’s certainly room for it on the mantle, but the mantle doesn’t require it to look good.


There’s much more valuable silverware down the road, just a few more stops.


  1. This year I want the whole Plate & Cup set complete with full silverware for our league best XI.

  2. Everyone here should value my 2010 pre Bimbo jersey since I’ve worn it to every home game I’ve been to this season (14…was out of town for Minnesota and Chicago). It’s been bringing the team good luck.

    • I’ve worn mine to *EVERY* game this year, so I got your back!

      • Cool. I’m planning to wear a later jersey Saturday for the friendly so I don’t lose any of the good luck when the team may be missing a lot of pieces.

    • Andy and BB, you are highly valued. I recall for the playoff run last year I was rocking the OG LeToux shirt. Unfortunately we were out of town for the conference championship so I take full responsibility for the U not being able to pull it off. This year going with the blue lightning bolt shirt and we have been undefeated when I wear it. Some would call it egocentric, but then I pay them to say something nice…

      • No way am I highly valued, just my shirt 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • I actually am such a fan that I had Covid right along with the U. Missed the championship game as well. So I’ll take partial blame there. I like Andy’s idea of not wearing the jersey this Saturday. I’m looking an for interesting away vibe this weekend.

    • Still have my 2010 no Bimbo jersey in my drawer waiting for the day I lose a couple pounds so it can fit me again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: