Outcome Uncertainty in Sporting Events
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Outcome Uncertainty in Sporting Events

Winning, Losing and Competitive Balance

Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Kesenne and Brad R. Humphreys

This book examines competitive balance and outcome uncertainty from multiple perspectives. Chapters address the topic in different sports in a range of countries, to help to understand its significance. It provides readers with important new insights into previously unexplored dimensions as well as a rich context for better understanding why fans, teams, and leagues value competitive balance. The book challenges readers to think about the topic in a broad and rigorous way, and in some cases to question widely held beliefs about how outcome uncertainty motivates competitive balance, and how sports fans actually view competitive balance.
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Chapter 6: A highly disaggregated look at competitive balance

James Reade


The nature of competitive balance is that it is commonly based on aggregated data – season-long measures for win percentages and the like, and multiple-season-based measures when checking for the absence of long-term domination. Yet fans make decisions, often, on a game-by-game basis. In this chapter we look at the game-by-game level, and the turnstile-by-turnstile level. Furthermore, research has suggested in recent years that fans in the stadium value a greater likelihood that the home team wins to an evenly balanced contest, in contrast to fans watching on television. We consider the price each entrant paid to enter Preston North End games, and the number of these entrants, over two seasons, 1955–56, and 1991–92. Initial results suggest that fans do prefer to see the home team win, prefer to see superstars play and do not value particularly highly competitive balance over longer time horizons (season and multi-season).

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