nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2020‒10‒05
three papers chosen by
Humberto Barreto
DePauw University

  1. Animal Spirits in the Beautiful Game. Testing social pressure in professional football during the COVID-19 lockdown By Cueva, Carlos
  2. The Specialization of Informal Social Control: Fighting in the National Hockey League from 1960-2012 By Sirianni, Antonio
  3. Measuring skill and chance in different versions of Poker By Lambrecht, Marco

  1. By: Cueva, Carlos
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic forced almost all professional football matches worlwide to be played in empty stadiums. This large-scale natural experiment offers a unique opportunity to assess the impact of social pressure on decision making and behavior. In particular, I investigate the effect of the home crowd on match outcomes and referee decisions. Using a large dataset from 41 professional football leagues in 30 different countries, I find that the home advantage in match outcomes drops by around one half and that referee bias against away teams completely disappears following the lockdowns. My results therefore suggest that social pressure exerted by home crowds has an important effect on the behavior of referees and on game outcomes.
    Date: 2020–09–11
  2. By: Sirianni, Antonio
    Abstract: The presence and value of systems of informal social control have been well-studied by sociologists and criminologists. While systems of informal control are by their very nature more decentralized and unorganized, can systems of informal social control come to resemble centralized systems of formal control? This article offers a highly detailed empirical analysis of a particular form of informal social control in a highly observable setting over time: fist-fighting in the National Hockey League. Fighting is commonly understood to be both an instrument of retaliatory “self-help” exercised by all players, but also the semi-exclusive domain of “enforcers” or “goons” who are employed by teams to physically retaliate on behalf of their opponents and deter violent play in others. A 52-year record of nearly 30,000 fist fights between players is analyzed alongside other player statistics. An analysis of the player distribution, network structure, and in-game contexts of these fights demonstrates a gradual shift from a system of self-help to a system of specialized enforcement. This shift is connected to larger changes in the size of the league and the talent pool, processes of specialization at the level of the team, and the emergence of an unofficial “enforcer” role that motivates participation in fights for certain players.
    Date: 2019–02–22
  3. By: Lambrecht, Marco
    Abstract: This paper aims to measure skill and chance in different versions of online poker, using the best-fit Elo algorithm established in the first chapter. While Texas Hold'em arguably is the most popular version being played, the amount of skill involved might differ from other versions like Omaha Hold'em. Many platforms offer faster procedures to play (e.g. "hyper turbo"), as well as different levels of stakes. Given the richness of online poker data, it is possible to isolate the impact of these variations individually. The heterogeneity of best-fit Elo ratings decreases in quicker competitions or with higher stakes. Meanwhile, Omaha seems to contain more elements of skill than Texas Hold'em, as its analysis shows a wider distribution of skill levels of players.
    Keywords: Elo-rating; measuring skill and chance; Poker
    Date: 2020–09–11

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