nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2017‒04‒30
one paper chosen by
João Carlos Correia Leitão
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Incentives to lose revisited: The NHL and its tournament incentives By Helena Fornwagner

  1. By: Helena Fornwagner
    Abstract: This paper analyzes data from a tournament, namely the National Hockey League regular scheduled season of games, which provides incentives to increase effort in order to reach the playoffs and incentives to decrease effort once a team has been eliminated from playoff considerations because of the entry draft. Our results show that teams indeed react to these dual incentives - they win more games when there is still a chance to reach the playoffs and lose more after being eliminated from playoff considerations. One can argue that losing more games after having no more chance to reach the playoffs could be the result of lower motivation or disappointment. This is the first study to show that this is not the only explanation for a higher amount of lost games. Instead, we find that there is a concrete strategy behind losing.
    Keywords: tournaments, dual incentives, National Hockey League, losing strategy
    JEL: C93 D03 L83 M52
    Date: 2017–04

This nep-spo issue is ©2017 by João Carlos Correia Leitão. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.