In Seattle for the WEAI Conference


I’m in Seattle for the WEAI Conference (known informally as the ‘Westerns’). It’s only my second time to this shindig, following last year’s Conference in San Francisco. The Westerns is one of the 5 biggest annual economics conferences in North America, but more importantly for me, it is the biggest annual gathering of sports economists in the World, as this is the regional conference where many of them agree come and arrange their own sessions, since they don’t run their own stand-alone conference (whether lack of critical mass or something else).

I am presenting a paper, co-authored with Niven Winchester (MIT) on estimating the effectiveness of the try-bonus point rule in rugby as a means of incentivising attacking play. I am also discussing a paper on the AFL’s unique Father-Son Rule, which has been interesting for me to read and write a critique of.

Having had a look at the programme, I am truly salivating at the prospect of some of the sessions (not merely the sports economics ones). Conferences in North America tend to be quite intensive compared with other parts of the World, and the Westerns is no exception – they often run over weekends, session often run from 8AM to 6PM with no designated gap for lunch (it’s just assumed you’ll miss a session at sometime during the day to eat something); and the sports economists tend to go for an evening meal and a beer each night afterwards – doesn’t leave a lot of time in the day for normal activities.

Yet I find it quite enjoyable. The only problem? As usual, I got right-royally screwed by the scheduling – first presenter in the first (8:15am) session on the last morning of the conference. Thanks a lot!



And now for something completely different!

On weekends (during the winter months in Melbourne), I am an umpire (referee) in my local Australian Rules football league, the Northern Football League (NFL, formerly Diamond Valley).

Tomorrow, I will notch up my 200th A Grade (Senior) match, officiating Northcote Park v West Preston in Division 1 at Bill Lawry Oval.

I started in 2000, and got to 100 in 2004, so the second century has taken significantly longer – it’s great to get there finally.

Details here

I look forward to the milestone – umpiring is an athletic pursuit, but above all it’s about the people you do it with, and to this end, I’m lucky to have a panel full of good mates with me for the occasion.