nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2011‒12‒13
four papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of Beira Interior and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Hedging one’s happiness – Should a sports fan bet on the opponent? By Bart Stemmet
  2. Damaging the perfect image of athletes: How sport promotes envy By Jérémy CELSE
  3. Conflicts of Interest Distort Public Evaluations: Evidence from the Top 25 Ballots of NCAA Football Coaches By Matthew Kotchen; Matthew Potoski
  4. Student effort and educational attainment: Using the England football team to identify the education production function. By Robert Metcalfe; Simon Burgess; Steven Proud

  1. By: Bart Stemmet (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
    Abstract: This paper sets out to show that a risk-averse sport fanatic could hedge his happiness by betting on the opposition. The literature surrounding happiness, risk- and loss aversion is explored and a model is developed to explain the happiness a fan derives from a match. It is shown that expectation as to what the result may be plays a vital role in the emotions awakened. An upset victory is much sweeter than one where one’s team is the outright favourite. Expectations determine the odds offered by bookies. Here lies the beauty of this strategy. Suffering an unexpected loss is more painful than an anticipated beating. That being said, the payout from betting on the underdog opposition (which subsequently won) would be larger the more unexpected the result was. To bet on the opposition to hedge one’s happiness appears to be a plausible strategy for an economically risk-averse sports fan – especially if one supports the odds-on favourite.
    Keywords: Happiness, Sports betting, Risk aversion, Loss aversion
    JEL: D81 D84
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Jérémy CELSE
    Abstract: We explore the behavioural and affective differences between subjects practicing sport activities and subjects not practicing sport. Are athletes more distressed by unfavourable social comparisons and more prone to engage in hostile behaviour than non-athletes? Using experimental methods, we investigate the connection between sport practice and antisocial behaviour. In our experiment we capture the satisfaction subjects derive from unflattering social comparisons by asking them to evaluate their satisfaction after being informed of their own endowment and after being informed of their opponent’s endowment. Then subjects can decide to reduce their opponent’s endowment by incurring a cost. We observe that sport plays a key role on both individual well-being and behaviour: 1) sport practice amplifies the negative impact of unfavourable social comparisons on individual well-being and 2) sport practice exerts subjects to reduce others’ income. Besides the satisfaction sporty subjects report from social comparisons predicts their decisions to reduce others’ income. Finally we provide empirical evidences suggesting that envy affects significantly athletes’ satisfaction and behaviour.
    Date: 2011–06
  3. By: Matthew Kotchen; Matthew Potoski
    Abstract: This paper provides a study on conflicts of interest among college football coaches participating in the USA Today Coaches Poll of top 25 teams. The Poll provides a unique empirical setting that overcomes many of the challenges inherent in conflict of interest studies, because many agents are evaluating the same thing, private incentives to distort evaluations are clearly defined and measurable, and there exists an alternative source of computer rankings that is bias free. Using individual coach ballots between 2005 and 2010, we find that coaches distort their rankings to reflect their own team's reputation and financial interests. On average, coaches rank teams from their own athletic conference nearly a full position more favorably and boost their own team's ranking more than two full positions. Coaches also rank teams they defeated more favorably, thereby making their own team look better. When it comes to ranking teams contending for one of the high-profile Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games, coaches favor those teams that generate higher financial payoffs for their own team. Reflecting the structure of payoff disbursements, coaches from non-BCS conferences band together, while those from BCS conferences more narrowly favor teams in their own conference. Among all coaches an additional payoff between $3.3 and $5 million induces a more favorable ranking of one position. Moreover, for each increase in a contending team's payoff equal to 10 percent of a coach's football budget, coaches respond with more favorable rankings of half a position, and this effect is more than twice as large when coaches rank teams outside the top 10.
    JEL: D7 D8
    Date: 2011–11
  4. By: Robert Metcalfe; Simon Burgess; Steven Proud
    Abstract: We use a sharp, exogenous and repeated change in the value of leisure to identify the impact of student effort on educational achievement. The treatment arises from the partial overlap of the world’s major international football tournaments with the exam period in England. Our data enable a clean difference-in-difference design. Performance is measured using the high-stakes tests that all students take at the end of compulsory schooling. We find a strongly significant effect: the average impact of a fall in effort is 0.12 SDs of student performance, significantly larger for male and disadvantaged students, as high as many educational policies.
    Keywords: student effort, educational achievement, schools
    JEL: I20 J24
    Date: 2011–11

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