The Economics of Competitive Sports

The Economics of Competitive Sports

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Ruud Koning

The essence of any sports contest is competition. The very unpredictability of a sporting outcome distinguishes it from, say, an opera performance. This volume presents a state of the art overview of the economics of competitive sport along two main themes. In the first part, the discussion centers on the organization of sports and competition. The second part deals with the competitive balance, rewards and outcomes of the actual contests.

Chapter 9: Career duration in capital-intensive individualistic sports: evidence from ski jumping, golf and auto racing

Bernd Frick, Brad R. Humphreys and Friedrich Scheel

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


In this chapter we analyze the determinants of career duration in three individual sports: professional golf, professional automobile racing, and professional ski jumping. In general, the careers of professional athletes appear skewed towards early exit (Witnauer et al., 2007). While a number of studies of career length in professional sport exist, these three sports have not been analyzed and most of the existing research has focused on career length in team sports. In addition, all three of these sports require relatively large quantities of specialized capital, unlike sports such as tennis, running, soccer, or basketball. Research on career length in individual professional sport is currently in its infancy. Only a few papers have analyzed career length of athletes in individual sports. In this chapter we identify some basic patterns in career length in these three individual sports in order to provide context for additional research in this area. These three sports all require significant equipment, in the form of skis, clubs, cars, and capital, in the form of ski jump facilities, golf courses, and race tracks that are both specialized and expensive to build and maintain. Our results suggest that professional golfers have the longest careers and professional ski jumpers the shortest; both absolute and relative performance affect career length in all three sports.

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