WINNING GAMES VERSUS WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS: THE ECONOMICS OF FAN INTEREST AND TEAM PERFORMANCE

Authors

  • James D. Whitney

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    • *Assistant Professor, Occidental College. I wish to thank my colleagues at Occidental College, especially Robby Moore and Woody Studenmund, for their many helpful suggestions. I am also grateful to Thomas E. Borcherding and to two anonymous referees for their extremely useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


Abstract

Championship prospects, as distinct from game-winning prospects, may contribute to a fan's interest in a particular sports team. If so, then both season length and the structure of championship playoffs help determine the equilibrium allocation of playing skills across the teams of a league. Evidence from a regression analysis of team attendance in baseball indicates that ticket demand depends in part on perceived flag-winning prospects. Several patterns in the winning percentages of league leaders in the major U.S. team sports are consistent with the perspective that championship considerations influence the allocation of playing skills.

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