Sports Through the Lens of Economic History

Sports Through the Lens of Economic History

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Edited by Richard Pomfret and John K. Wilson

From professional team sports to international events such as the Olympics and Tour de France, the modern sports industry continues to attract a large number of spectators and participants. This book, edited by Richard Pomfret and John K. Wilson analyzes the economic evolution of sports over the last 150 years, from a pastime activity to a big business enterprise. It begins at a time when entrepreneurs and players first started making money from professional sports leagues, through to the impact of radio and TV in the twentieth century, and onto the present day.

Chapter 2: The evolution of professional team sports

Richard Pomfret

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, sports


This chapter examines the origins of modern professional sports, and the increase in the geographical scope of professional sports in the second half of the twentieth century, associated with radio and TV and air transport. It analyzes the distribution of the large rents being generated from sports as a result of these historical trends, as well as the professionalization of management and use of big data to improve sporting performance and to increase the size of revenues or influence distribution of rents. Sports industries have often obtained general exemptions from competition policy, workplace rules, and other regulations, as well as attracting state spending both in support of professional sports and associated with the mega-events controlled by monopolies such as the International Olympics Committee, FIFA or Formula One car racing, whose governance has been associated with corrupt practices. The final section offers concluding observations.

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