nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2023‒09‒18
four papers chosen by
Humberto Barreto, DePauw University

  1. Cristiano of Arabia: Did Ronaldo increase Saudi Pro League attendances? By Carl Singleton; Dominik Schreyer
  2. Visitors Out! The Absence of Away Team Supporters as a Source of Home Advantage in Football By Federico Fioravanti; Fernando Delbianco; Fernando Tohm\'e
  3. Ancestral diversity and performance: Evidence from football data By Silvia Peracchi; Skerdilajda Zanaj; Michel Beine
  4. Variations on the Reinforcement Learning performance of Blackjack By Avish Buramdoyal; Tim Gebbie

  1. By: Carl Singleton (Department of Economics, University of Reading); Dominik Schreyer (Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Unternehmensführung (WHU))
    Abstract: In December 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo, five-time Ballon d'Or winner and the most-followed person on Instagram, signed a reported 200million euros contract to play football in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for two and a half years. This marked one of several recent ground-shaking and expensive interventions by the KSA in global sports markets. We exploit the timing of this event, mid-way through a season of the Saudi Pro League, to estimate superstar effects. There are clear patterns showing that Ronaldo alone increased stadium attendance demand in the KSA, even before the influx of further stars in the summer of 2023. On average, Ronaldo helped to fill an additional 20% of the seats in his home team's stadium when he played, 15% of the seats in the stadiums he visited, and 3% of the seats where he did not even play. These effects may be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what policymakers will be hoping for. Regardless, they demonstrate that the astronomical sums being invested in sports markets by the Saudi state are not necessarily a total folly.
    Keywords: Attendance, Demand, Externalities, Football, Spectator sports, Superstars
    JEL: L83 Z2
    Date: 2023–08–26
  2. By: Federico Fioravanti; Fernando Delbianco; Fernando Tohm\'e
    Abstract: We seek to gain more insight into the effect of the crowds on the Home Advantage by analyzing the particular case of Argentinean football (also known as soccer), where for more than ten years, the visiting team fans were not allowed to attend the games. Additionally, during the COVID-19 lockdown, a significant number of games were played without both away and home team fans. The analysis of more than 20 years of matches of the Argentinean tournament indicates that the absence of the away team crowds was beneficial for the Top 5 teams during the first two years after their attendance was forbidden. An additional intriguing finding is that the lack of both crowds affects significantly all the teams, to the point of turning the home advantage into home `disadvantage' for most of the teams.
    Date: 2023–08
  3. By: Silvia Peracchi (Université du Luxembourg); Skerdilajda Zanaj (Université du Luxembourg); Michel Beine (Université du Luxembourg)
    Abstract: The theoretical impact of diversity is ambiguous because it leads to costs and benefits at the collective level. In this presentation, we empirically assess the connection between ancestral diversity and the performance of sport teams. Focusing on football (soccer), we built a novel dataset of national teams of European countries having participated in the European and the World Championships since 1970. Ancestral diversity of national teams is based on augmenting the diversity index with genetic distance information on every player's origins in the team. Origins for each player are recovered using a matching algorithm based on family names. Performance is measured at the match level. Identification of the causal link relies on an instrumental-variable strategy based on past immigration at the country level about one generation before. Our findings indicate a positive causal link between ancestral diversity and teams' performance. We find that a one-standard increase in diversity can lead to ranking changes of two to three positions after each stage of a championship.
    Date: 2023–08–11
  4. By: Avish Buramdoyal; Tim Gebbie
    Abstract: Blackjack or "21" is a popular card-based game of chance and skill. The objective of the game is to win by obtaining a hand total higher than the dealer's without exceeding 21. The ideal blackjack strategy will maximize financial return in the long run while avoiding gambler's ruin. The stochastic environment and inherent reward structure of blackjack presents an appealing problem to better understand reinforcement learning agents in the presence of environment variations. Here we consider a q-learning solution for optimal play and investigate the rate of learning convergence of the algorithm as a function of deck size. A blackjack simulator allowing for universal blackjack rules is also implemented to demonstrate the extent to which a card counter perfectly using the basic strategy and hi-lo system can bring the house to bankruptcy and how environment variations impact this outcome. The novelty of our work is to place this conceptual understanding of the impact of deck size in the context of learning agent convergence.
    Date: 2023–08

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