Maximise Attendances with Economically-Designed Fixture

Standard

I ‘dropped’ (as they say these days) my latest op ed in the Australian Financial Review (today, Thursday 7 April), called: “Clash of Rivals will Boost Flagging Football Crowds” on p.47 of the hard copy. The link is here, but if you find it gated for you, then e-mail me to request a copy.

It builds on a paper that is forthcoming to be published soon, with Dr Jordi McKenzie (Macquarie University) and Stephan Lenor (University of Heidelberg, Germany).

In a good day all-round media-wise, I was also interviewed on ABC Radio Melbourne (774 AM) with Jon Faine regarding this research. Audio of the interview is available here for one week (go  straight to 57:15).

We believe that using our mathematical optimisation technique, we could increase AFL attendance by 100,000 spectators a year via a simple reform of how the fixture is determined (It could also do a similar thing for the NRL). This change would not even compromise the fixture with respect to any of its existing constraints. Over to you, League officials!!!

Brownlow Medal Data Uncovers Biases in Voting Decisions

Standard

I had another opinion piece run in the Australian Financial Review (today, Thursday 24 September), titled: “Brownlow Voting Biased Against the Ineligible” on p.51.

The key thrust is that AFL players already suspended earlier in the season (thus ineligible to win the Brownlow Medal – the best and fairest player award) poll significantly less votes than their still-eligible counterparts.

It is a timely piece in advance of this year’s vote count next Monday night.

I hope the ‘footy-heads’ among you enjoy this one!

Hawthorn’s Case for All-time AFL Premiership Supremacy

Standard

I thought I’d blog a brief post about Hawthorn’s 2014 AFL Grand Final triumph because…well, I can.

In an orgy of brown and gold hubris, I chose to celebrate the occasion by gloating shamelessly in today’s Australian Financial Review (Tuesday 30 September), in the article: “Adjusting the Count Makes the Hawks AFL Winners” (gated, on p.55 of print copy).

The thrust suggests that all things considered for ‘opportunity’ (both seasons in AFL and number of teams in each season), Hawthorn now goes statistically to the top of the AFL all-time premiership tree, despite being equal-fourth on raw numbers.

I also had a short interview on Mornings with Geoff Hutchison on ABC Radio (Perth), discussing other findings arising from this adjustment (with an emphasis on the two WA teams).

E-mail me a request if you are interested in either of these files.

Perhaps the final word on AFL season 2014 should belong to Titus O’Riely: “The good news is that finally, the drought is over for those long suffering Hawks supporters. How they have waited. It’s not every year Hawthorn wins a Premiership, but it really feels like it.”

Sports Symposium

Standard

On Wednesday, I attended a wonderful Sports Symposium event, hosted by La Trobe’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI), of which I am a staff member. It was aimed primarily at young hopefuls who wish to make a career in the sports industry. The guest speakers included notable AFL figures Geelong CEO Brian Cook, The Age sports reporter Emma Quayle and player agent Paul Conners (Conners Sports Management). Each of the speakers had some special nuggets of wisdom to impart. ‘Tenacity’ was a big theme for each of them.

CSSI Director Professor Russell Hoye tells me that this is set to become a semi-regular event. I can’t wait to see who is on the bill for the next one. I’ll be there with bells on.

Anti-Tanking Policy in the AFR

Standard

My newspaper op ed piece appeared this morning in the Australian Financial Review (Thursday 31 July), regarding my suggestion to circumvent tanking in pro-sports leagues with reverse-order drafts (see also this earlier post) called: “Stop Tanking: Rank Draft Picks by Finals Exit, Not Ladder“. See p.51 of the hard copy if you have it, or e-mail me a request (the link is gated). The timing is excellent – these things are often talked about long after the incident itself, typically round about when rumours surface of an impending investigation (or even later). Far better to spotlight the issue before the damage might actually occur.

Meeting with AFLPA

Standard

I was privileged to meet today with some representatives of the AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA). It follows a meeting I had last year with their CEO Matt Finnis, and today I had the opportunity to provide them with an economist’s view of issues that are crucial to them right now – equalisation, labour market restrictions, revenue sharing, anti-doping and tanking. I believe that my input will help inform their views about these matters.

Not only was this a clear opportunity to foster links for industry engagement personally, but it was also a positive development for the industry itself. We know that Australia lags behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to industry-university collaboration. In Australia, the sports industry lags behind many other industries in this respect. Hopefully, this is a baby-step in the right direction for better co-operation in future.

Malthouse Gives Sports Economics Guest Lecture

Standard

Coach of Carlton (AFL) Football Club, Michael Malthouse, gave a guest lecture in my Sports Economics (ECO3EOS) class this morning. The overarching theme of his talk was how the business model of the game has changed in his 40+ years in the competition. Having played in or coached over 800 VFL/AFL games (not to mention one premiership as player and three as coach); he ought to know a thing or two about this. My students found it most enlightening, and (needless to say), so did I.

I followed his talk by presenting some of my results on my recent (and preliminary) work on anti-tanking policy in the AFL. I was a bit lucky to snag him for this. Malthouse has had a position as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe since last year, so I was able to leverage off this. Total respect…and not just for the footballing accolades, either.

This followed a similar guest talk last year by John Didulica (Operations Manager, Melbourne Heart). Next year, I hope to get someone from Rugby, just mix the sports up a bit.

200-Up

Standard

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.