Sunday, July 1, 2012

European Sports and the LA California Angels of Anaheim

Still at the Western Economics meetings in San Francisco. First a restaurant thought there is a great breakfast place around the corner (Taylor Street Coffee), in fact it was so good I have eaten there two days in a row. As an economist I love that they are a little pushy at getting tables to turn over. they bring you your check with the food and take your plate as soon as you are done (or almost done). Diners and breakfast places run on thin margins and have peaks on weekend mornings so higher turnover is key. If that is what they need to do to serve such awesome food, I approve.

At the Westerns I have seen papers on cricket and Australian rules football. In terms of the cricket paper it turns out there is a new cricket league in India that plays cricket matches that last only a few hours as opposed to longer versions that last a full day or days. Interestingly the league has an auction model for players salaries for some players and a minimum salary for others. The authors test what impacts the salary including previous performance. Indians apparently really like watching Indian players, although performance has weaker effects. I should have mentioned this to the authors but it may indicate star players like David Beckham in soccer whose fame may exceed their past play. I also now have a much better understanding of how the game works. Interestingly in baseball the home team bats last while in Cricket they choose. I over heard another economist saying that baseball has one of the lowest home field advantages in terms of winning, this may be because some research has shown batting first may be optimal.

The Australian rules football paper looked at scheduling. In short the league has something like 16 teams but plays 28 games a year, so while all teams play once not all teams play twice. A lot of research has gone into the optimal scheduling of teams, you might want rivals to play each other more (Yankees/Red Sox) which does happen in American sports with divisions or leagues. I think the results of this paper and others show matching teams up by quality the previous year would increase attendance and so would replaying the previous year champions. I wonder why MLB doesn't have one series between the defending AL/NL champs.

Finally, another paper looks at why teams chose the region they are named after. Should it be the California Angels or LA Angels or Anaheim Angels. The paper looked at how the name correlated with funds received from the government they were named after. Surprisingly, the correlation was that teams got less money when they were named after the state. One audience member said the Minnesota Twins were the first team to be named after a state. One interesting extension might be look at why teams keep names for cities they aren't located in (New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys)

Finally, sorry I don't have links to the papers.

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