Seminar: Sports Economics

Course content

After completing the seminar, the student will be able to

- leverage economic methodology to analyze a problem from the sports world

- discuss the analyses' strengths and weaknesses

- derive implications for non-sports world issues

As such, the seminar aims at improving the students' economic toolsets through applied analyses and critical discussion of the validity and implications of their results. These are skills that will be useful in any future career, whether it be in academia, in government, or in the private sector.


MSc programme of Economics
The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome

Using sports to derive interesting implications for other areas of the economy has become increasingly popular among researchers, as it is much easier to measure success and failure in sports than in more traditional businesses.

This seminar introduces students to economic analyses of sports markets and teams. Understanding the world of sports requires economic intuition, as players, teams, leagues, and spectators – like all individuals – respond to incentives. In addition, vast amounts of performance data is readily available, allowing students to spend more time honing their analytical abilities than mining data.

The seminar thus aims at allowing students to set up small research projects, empirical and/or theoretical, on sports related issues such as

Measuring individual contribution

  • How important is a particular player to team success?
  • How can we distinguish individual success from team success?
  • Do media experts value certain abilities too much?


Optimal decision-making

  • Are tickets too expensive?
  • Are substitutions effective?
  • Do teams sell more of their 3rd jerseys after using them in televised games?
  • What is the 'right' size of a sports league?


Managerial turnover

  • Why and when are managers fired?
  • Do teams do better following turnover?


Discrimination and diversity

  • Do diverse teams perform better?
  • Which characteristics matter for salary (race, beauty, etc.)?
  • Are foreign players treated more harshly by referees?

Planning/start-up meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-draft of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

Audas, R., Dobson, S., and J. Goddard (1999). Organizational performance and managerial turnover. Managerial and Decision Economics, 20(6), 305-318.

Berri, D., Brook, S., and M. B. Schmidt (2007). Does one simply need to score to score? International Journal of Sport Finance, 2, 190-205.

Chiappori, P.A., Levitt, S. and T. Groseclose (2002): Testing mixed-strategy equilibria when players are heterogeneous: The case of penalty kicks in soccer, American Economic Review, 92(4), 1138-1151.

De Luca, G., Schokkaert, J., and J. Swinnen (2015). Cultural Differences, Assimilation, and Behavior Player Nationality and Penalties in Football, Journal of Sports Economics, 16(5), 508-530.

Ehrenberg, R. and M. Bognanno (1990). Do Tournaments have Incentive Effects?, Journal of Political Economy, 98(6), 1307-1324.

Gray, P.K. and S.F. Gray (1997), Testing Market Efficiency: Evidence from the NFL Sports Betting Market, Journal of Finance, 52(4), 1725-37.

Massey, C. and R. Thaler (2013). The loser's curse: Decision making and market efficiency in the National Football League draft. Management Science, 59(7), 1479-1495.

Miguel, E., Saiegh, S., and S. Satyanath (2011). Civil war exposure and violence, Economics and Politics, 23(1), 59-73.

Romer, D. (2006): Do Firms Maximize? Evidence from Professional Football, Journal of Political Economy, 114(2), 340-365.

Scully, G. (1974): Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball, American Economic Review, 64(6), 915-930.

Wolfers, J. (2006). Point Shaving: Corruption in NCAA Basketball, American Economic Review, 96, 279-83.

Thorough understanding of microeconomics (Microeconomics I and II) and applied econometrics (Econometrics I and maybe also II) is required.

Haven done additional related courses within these fields, such as Incentives and Organizations, Political Economics, Industrial Organization, Labor Economics, and/or Microeconometrics will be an advantage but is not necessary.

The course focuses on economic analyses of sports issues but it is not a prerequisite to be particularly familiar with sports. E.g. it is not necessary to be an expert on the rules of snooker to examine whether players systematically have higher total scores when playing on live TV than when playing untelevised events.

Suggestions of dates in the seminar:
• Planning meeting: Friday, February 10th 2017, 8.15-10
• Extra days of teaching/supervision: Friday, February 17th, 8.15-10. By appointment as needed
• Deadline of pre-assignment: April 21 at 12.00 (noon)
• Presentations/Workshops: April 28, 8:15-15

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- seminar paper in English.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
- up to 20 % censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

The student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course and the objectives stated in the Curriculum.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • English
  • 206