Here’s a lesson for you, assuming that you are the president of an impoverished West African nation: Don’t try to complain that American football is wasting electricity that could be going to power your nation, in an attempt to focus attention on your country’s war-ravaged deprivation. Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tried it, in Foreign Policy magazine, and this is the Wall Street Journal article she got in response:
Bob Brackett, is an energy analyst at Bernstein Research. Mr. Brackett took issue with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s statement in Foreign Policy that the heart of Texas football (sorry, Houston Texans) does indeed use more power than the nation of 3.7 million people…
Numbers were crunched, and after the pile-on was cleared they found that the answer was yes and no.
During moments of peak demand on game day, the 80,000-seat stadium may consume up to 10 megawatts of electricity, Bernstein said. Liberia has the capacity to pump less than a third as much power into its national grid.
But with only eight games played at the stadium during regular season, peak demand levels aren’t reflective of how much electricity the stadium uses over an entire month or year. In other words, Cowboys Stadium might use more electricity than Ms. Sirleaf’s country for a few hours eight days out of the year, but it stands empty for most of the rest of the remainder.
So Cowboys Stadium (now renamed after a phone company, but apparently the WSJ’s style guide has been slow to keep up) indeed draws more power than a nation of 3.7 million people founded by resettled American slaves, but only on the days when they turn everything on for football. Or, to put it another way, in order to power Liberia for less than it costs to run the Cowboys stadium, you’d need to turn the nation off for much of the year. Not that most Liberians would notice, given that more than 99% of them already have no electricity at all.
Sorry, did I drift into talking about Liberia? Let’s return to the WSJ, which writes, “After factoring in every other U.S. football team – even the low-drawing Oakland Raiders – it becomes clear that it takes a lot of power to charge American sports.” Now there’s a conclusion everyone can agree with. And it doesn’t require thinking too much about places like … where was it again?