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Sports Economics Uncut

Brian Goff

“Sport has the power to change the world.” Sports Economics Uncut expresses this insight from Nelson Mandela, exploring sports as a fascinating mirror of the world and a powerful agent of change. In it, Brian Goff covers subjects ranging from the ebb and flow of racial discrimination, to inequality, law enforcement, managers and risky decisions, club membership, and politics. Much more than merely a review or synthesis, this book extends existing perspectives and explores provocative questions such as: how systematic is racial bias in pro sports today? Is all racial segregation in sports due to racial bias? How much are college athletes really worth, and is league parity really optimal? 
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Chapter 5: Segregation with and without discrimination

Brian Goff


It took nearly 40 years from the integration of the NFL for a black quarterback to start a Super Bowl game. It did not become a common occurrence until five years ago. Similarly, black players were seldom used as pitchers and catchers in MLB long after racial integration started. Chapter 5 explains how this “positional segregation” is too easily ascribed to bias alone. Black players dominate the defensive backfields of NFL teams, but no one attributes this segregation to bias. The chapter uses Babe Ruth’s skills along with performances in Olympic running and weightlifting events to illustrate the importance of relative, not absolute, skill and how relative skills can differ across regions and races. In addition, the chapter accounts for the role of playing strategies and styles on racial outcomes using data on differences between college and professional football and the performance data for black and white quarterbacks.

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