Maximise Attendances with Economically-Designed Fixture

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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!!!

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Economics Decodes ‘Hottest 100’ Musical Tastes

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Rock’n’roll dreams do come true in the annual Triple J ‘Hottest 100’; and there is actually quite a bit of potential for economic analysis from it.

This potential was covered in my opinion piece, which ran in the Australian Financial Review (today, Thursday 21 January), titled: “Rock’n’roll the Winner in Triple-J Hottest 100 Count” on p.35. The results of the 2015 poll will be revealed on Tuesday (Australia Day).

For the record, here is the list of 2015 songs I voted for, which shows just how out-of-touch I am with the alt/indie scene nowadays. Here’s hoping that you enjoy the countdown (if, like me, that’s what you’re into).

Art vs Science – Tired of Pretending
Birds of Tokyo – Anchor
Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best
Courtney Barnett – Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party
Meg Mac – Never Be
The Rubens – Hoops
Rudimental – Never Let You Go
Tame Impala – ‘Cause I’m a Man
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face
Zafareli – Withdrawals

Brownlow Medal Data Uncovers Biases in Voting Decisions

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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!

Call for Papers: Rassegna di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport

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Italian journal Rassegna di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport is producing a special issue on ‘Development in Sports Economics’. The details can be found here. For those in the academic sports economics community who might have an appropriate paper to submit, you can send your submission to Dimitri Paolini (Università di Sassary & Université Catholique de Louvain) at: dpaolini@uniss.it before Saturday 28 February.

Aussie Tennis Stars Statistically Fail to Fire at Home

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My first newspaper piece for 2015 appeared in the Australian Financial Review (today, Friday 9 January), called: “Home-court advantage fading away in Australia”. It did not appear on-line, so e-mail me a request for a copy if you’re a tennis fan (even if you’re not) who wishes to read it. Alternatively, it’s on p.35 of the hard copy for those with access.

It builds on work I’ve been doing with Dr James Reade (University of Reading). The basic thrust is that home advantage on the ATP Tour was insignificant for Australian (male) tennis players over our 2003-2013 sample period, unlike most other major tennis-playing nations. These blokes had better start pulling their collective finger out!

UPDATE: They did…a bit!

Lead Article of Volume in ‘Journal of Sports Economics’

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There was a nice surprise yesterday, when I discovered that my latest published article – in the Journal of Sports Economics – has been assigned as the lead article of this year’s volume (16). Signals seem to be mixed on whether this actually means anything in terms of esteem or quality judgements, but a well-known empirical regularity is that lead articles do tend to get more citations other things being equal (see, for example, Coupé, Ginsburgh and Noury, 2010, in Oxford Economic Papers), so here’s hoping.

The article itself adjusts win percentages of NFL teams to account for strength of schedule, prior to calculating standard measures of competitive balance. I find that the adjustment makes the NFL (already considered the epitome of competitive balance) look even more balanced. For the record, the details are as follows:

Lenten, L. J. A. (2015), “Measurement of Competitive Balance in Conference and Divisional Tournament Design”, Journal of Sports Economics, 16(1), 3-25.

You can view the abstract here, and e-mail me if you would like a copy.

Rugby’s ‘Bonus Points’ Work – Policymakers Should Take Note (AFR Piece)

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I had yet another opinion piece that appeared in this morning’s edition of the Australian Financial Review (Friday 22 August), titled: “Use Bonus Points to Encourage Crowd-Pleasing Play” (link gated), on p.35. Alternatively, if you don’t have the hard copy, e-mail me a request.

It discusses research I have undertaken with Niven Winchester (MIT) on estimating the effect of the try bonus in Rugby to alter behaviour of players and coaches to produce more attacking rugby to score more tries, which after all is what the punters want.

It develops ideas discussed in this blog a few years ago. The paper title itself is the somewhat more esoteric: “Secondary Behavioural Incentives: ‘Field’ Evidence on Professionals”…hopefully coming soon to a good peer-refereed economics journal near you!