No! Every rational person knows the answer intuitively, but this question is often discussed in the media for fun, of course. One prediction often made is that, if the NFC team (L.A. Rams this year) wins, then it bodes well for the stock market by yearend; the opposite is true if an AFC team wins (Cincinnati Bengals this year). In this article, I will present data that proves your intuition correct — football and the stock market have nothing to do with each other, so one cannot predict the other.
The dataset that I prepared for this article is included below:
In the first tab of the spreadsheet, you’ll find the results of the Super Bowl since 1967. The second tab are the daily closing levels of the S&P 500 index. The third tab summarizes the S&P 500 performance by year, lined up with the Super Bowl results, starting in 1971 (the earliest year for which I have data on the S&P 500).
There have been 55 Super Bowl games from 1967 to 2021. The NFC has won 29 games, while the AFC has won 26. The NFC’s edge is so slim, it is virtually a coin toss. Since my stock market data covers 1971 onward, the rest of this article will use 1971-2021 data; during this period, the NFC’s edge is even slimmer — 26 to 25. In the meantime, the S&P 500 has had 38 up years and 13 down years.
Each year is flagged for whether the NFC or the AFC team won, and whether the S&P 500 went up or down from Jan 1 to Dec 31 in the same year. Next, I calculate the correlation coefficient between NFC/AFC wins and whether the S&P 500 went up or down. A low correlation coefficient/score would be less than .25; a medium score would be about .40 to .60 range; a high score would be in the .70 to .80 range. Even a high correlation is not cause for celebration, as it can be due to coincidence or some other unexplained factor.
The correlation matrix is below:
As you can see, NFC wins have a .056 correlation with the S&P 500’s going up or down –indeed a very low correlation. For good measure, I also ran the correlation on AFC wins, which yields the same result (below).
Although the results were not surprising, this exercise made it possible to gauge how close our intuition was to the actual calculation. If your a priori assumption was 0 correlation, then you would be very close.
I root for an NFC team with a terrible name and record, the Commanders, but I’m always happy to root for another NFC team that competes in the Super Bowl. Go Rams!