nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2020‒09‒07
five papers chosen by
Humberto Barreto
DePauw University

  1. Team performance and audience: experimental evidence from the football sector By Massimiliano Ferraresi; Gianluca Gucciardi
  2. Mass Outdoor Events and the Spread of an Airborne Virus: English Football and Covid-19 By Matthew Olczak; J. James Reade; Matthew Yeo
  3. No home bias in ghost games By Dilger, Alexander; Vischer, Lars
  4. Analysing a built-in advantage in asymmetric darts contests using causal machine learning By Daniel Goller
  5. Gender Stereotyping in Sports By Marcén, Miriam; Morales, Marina; Sevilla, Almudena

  1. By: Massimiliano Ferraresi (European Commission Joint Research Centre); Gianluca Gucciardi (European Commission Joint Research Centre and Ispra)
    Abstract: We exploit the natural experimental setting provided by the Covid-19 lockdown to analyse how performance is affected by a friendly audience. Specifically, we use data on all football matches in the top-level competitions across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom over the 2019/2020 season. We compare the difference between the number of points gained by teams playing at home and teams competing away before the Covid-19 outbreak, when supporters could attend any match, with the same difference after the lockdown, when all matches took place behind closed doors. We find that the performance of the home team is halved when stadiums are empty, with this effect being more marked for teams whose attendance rate was very high and for those that do not have international experience. Taken together, these results may play a key role in the design of the future workplace as ‘smart working’—an organisational model where the perception of being observed is less pronounced—is becoming increasingly important.
    Keywords: team performance, home advantage, choking, lockdown, natural experiment
    JEL: J2 D8 M54
    Date: 2020–08
  2. By: Matthew Olczak (Aston Business School, Aston University); J. James Reade (Department of Economics, University of Reading); Matthew Yeo (Department of Economics, University of Reading)
    Abstract: Mass attendance events are a mainstay of economic and social activity. Such events have public health consequences, facilitating the spreading of disease, with attendant economic consequences. There is uncertainty over the impact such events can have on the spread of disease. We investigate the impact of regular mass outdoor meetings on the spread of a virus by considering football matches in England in February and March 2020 and the spread of Covid-19 into April 2020. There were 340 league and cup football matches with a combined attendance of 1.625m people in March, taking place over 188 of 313 local areas. We look at the occurrence and attendance at matches, and how full the stadia were, and how these variables are related to the spread of Covid-19 in April. We evaluate Covid-19 cases, deaths and excess deaths, all as rates of 100,000 people in an area. We find evidence that mass outdoor events were consistent with more cases and deaths, even after controlling for measurable characteristics of local areas. We find that a football match is consistent with around six additional Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, two additional Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people, and three additional excess deaths per 100,000 people. This effect is slightly stronger for the areas of away teams in March, and slightly weaker for matches in February. These results suggest caution in returning to unrestricted spectator attendance at matches. We caveat our analysis though by noting that stadium access and egress routes can be adapted such that some of the opportunities for the spread of an airborne virus could be mitigated. We recommend that the relevant authorities conduct pilot events before determining to what extent fans can return to mass outdoor events.
    Keywords: Social distancing, mass outdoor gatherings, Covid-19
    JEL: I18 H12 I10
    Date: 2020–09–03
  3. By: Dilger, Alexander; Vischer, Lars
    Abstract: Because of the COVID-19-pandemic the men's first German football league (Bundesliga) had to finish the season 2019/20 with ghost games as spectators were not allowed in the stadiums. Comparing these games with the regular ones between the same teams before, we find that the normal advantage for the home team disappears. One reason for this is the disappearances of the home bias of the referees whereas changes in the sportive performance of the teams seem to be irrelevant in this regard.
    JEL: Z20
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Daniel Goller
    Abstract: We analyse a sequential contest with two players in darts where one of the contestants enjoys a technical advantage. Using methods from the causal machine learning literature, we analyse the built-in advantage, which is the first-mover having potentially more but never less moves. Our empirical findings suggest that the first-mover has an 8.6 percentage points higher probability to win the match induced by the technical advantage. Contestants with low performance measures and little experience have the highest built-in advantage. With regard to the fairness principle that contestants with equal abilities should have equal winning probabilities, this contest is ex-ante fair in the case of equal built-in advantages for both competitors and a randomized starting right. Nevertheless, the contest design produces unequal probabilities of winning for equally skilled contestants because of asymmetries in the built-in advantage associated with social pressure for contestants competing at home and away.
    Date: 2020–08
  5. By: Marcén, Miriam (University of Zaragoza); Morales, Marina (University of Zaragoza); Sevilla, Almudena (University College London)
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature of gender differences in academic attainment by putting together several sources of data going back several decades to investigate how gender stereotypes and parental time investments shape sport choices of boys and girls during high school. Using data from the 2002-2019 National Federation of State High School Association, which provides information for every state on the total number of high school participants by gender in each sport, we document that states with more gender-equal norms are also states where boys and girls tend to break stereotypes when making sport choices in high school. We also identify parental time investments as being an important cultural-transmission mechanism.
    Keywords: gender, stereotypes, bias, sports
    JEL: J10 J16 J18
    Date: 2020–07

This nep-spo issue is ©2020 by Humberto Barreto. 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.