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  • Series: New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series x
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Edited by John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

The sports sector, apart from being of economic significance in itself, is clearly one that many citizens share a great interest in. It is not mere results, but aspects such as history, statistics, interest in labour markets and finances that often spark people’s interest. Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics explores a variety of topics including mega-event analysis, sports governance, anthropometrics, gambling, industrial organisation, infrastructure development and racial issues. 
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Pierre-Charles Pradier

In this very preliminary inquiry, we consider five “systems” of betting on sport, from: (1) private peer-to-peer betting, to (2) commercial bookmaking on multiple outcomes, (3) parimutuel betting on combination of events, (4) real-time betting, and eventually (5) platform intermediated peer-to-peer betting. The evolution from one step to another was mainly driven by betting operators, who played with regulation to supply the customers with betting opportunities that fit their preferences and biases: ball sports displaced horse racing, and live betting cannibalized the other forms of betting since the mid-2000s. The advent of the Internet made regulations difficult to enforce and cut tax income, but solutions to these problems are eventually being found, with algorithms providing for fraud detection and exchange of information enabling the taxation of bettors’ income rather than placed bets. Implementation is still in the waiting, though.

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Jeffrey Chang, Luc Borrowman and Lionel Frost

We identify the factors that determine the duration of club survival in the English Premier League (EPL), an open sports league based on promotion and relegation. Using survival analysis models for data from 25 seasons since the inception of the EPL in 1992-93, our results show four main predictors of club survival: club annual revenue, composition of foreign players, manager experience, and number of re-entries into the league. We find evidence of a liability of newness, the proposition that firm age is directly association with firm survival in a given industry, with over half of all promoted clubs being relegated within three years.

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Edited by John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

The economics of sport has been a dynamic branch of economic research in recent years. This reflects the size and salience of the sports industry in many countries and increasingly as an international phenomenon. Professional sports leagues and individual mega-events can be multi-billion-dollar activities driven as much, and sometimes more, by economics as by the sporting aspect. The clear set of rules and ‘big data’ available from many sports has also provided fertile ground for testing and refining responses to incentives and core elements of game theory and behavioural economics.

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Joseph Price, Sebastian Brown and Jacob Van Leeuwen

We construct a new dataset that links information on professional baseball players with genealogical information about their family members. Our sample includes 4,091 major league players born before 1940 along with 8,344 of their siblings. We find that MLB players live about 3 years longer than their siblings. In order to examine how much of this difference is due to a possible income effect, we also construct a sample of 6,134 minor league players (who never made it to the majors) and 9,245 of their siblings. We find an even larger gap for the minor league players with them living about 4.1 years longer than their siblings. The dataset that we’ve constructed provides a unique way to incorporate information from census and vital records to expand the types of measures that we have about professional athletes.

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J. Andrew Ross, John Cranfield and Kris Inwood

We examine the evolution of physical changes in professional hockey players in the context of the historical development of the hockey industry. The height and weight of 3,763 male Canadians who played major league hockey from 1909 to 2010 reveal a process of relative morphologic optimization as hockey player bodies grew in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), with significant differences by birth cohort and region of birth. We also uncover a process of specialization by playing position and show that while hockey bodies were larger than average, the secular trend mirrored the experience of all Canadians, at least until recent decades when NHL rule changes and the secular obesity epidemic contributed to a distinct divergence.

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Wladimir Andreff

The chapter contends that the value of the Keynesian multiplier used in impact studies depends on the historical economic context surrounding the Winter Olympics. This is verified with how the winter sports economy has evolved from Grenoble to Albertville Winter Games; comparing economic impacts and legacies for both, eventually the context was better to host the Games in 1968 than 1992. This is due to: GDP growth rate, inflation and unemployment in the French economy, a much more booming area in Grenoble, a changing winter sports practice in France and worldwide, globalisation and innovation clusters in the winter sports goods market and industry, with a subsequent product life cycle, and the positioning of Grenoble 1968 and Albertville 1992 in the Winter Games sequence.

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Akihiko Kawaura and Sumner La Croix

Professional baseball leagues in North America and Japan have similar institutions governing their sport. All Major League Baseball (MLB) teams and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams are governed by associations of team owners who make major decisions and hire a commissioner to enforce rules, manage league operations, and preserve the integrity of baseball. We present narrative histories of the role of the commissioner in MLB and NPB and conclude that MLB owners have typically delegated more authority to the commissioner than NPB owners. We find that NPB and MLB commissioners differ with respect to their age at hire, length of the contract term, and their tenure on the job. Our tentative explanation rests on cross-country differences in the extent of scandals affecting the integrity of the game, the relative power of teams with large fan bases in league decision making, and the stronger position of NPB teams vis-à-vis their players.

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Michael Leeds and Hugh Rockoff

For many years after the Civil War there were many prominent African American jockeys. They rode winners in all of the Triple-Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. But at the turn of the century African American jockeys were forced out. It was another poignant example of the “Strange Career of Jim Crow.” This chapter uses a new dataset on the Kentucky Derby, including odds all the entrants in all of the races through 1911, to explore further the attitudes of owners, trainers, and the betting public toward African American jockeys before their expulsion.

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Edited by John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret