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!!!

Policy in the Pub

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Last night, I went to an Economics Society of Australia (Victorian Branch) event that is a wonderful new (henceforth monthly) initiative, called Policy in the Pub. The inaugural speaker at this event at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in the City was the Grattan Institute’s Jim Minifie, who gave a superb presentation on the interim Murray Report on the Australian financial system. Fortunately, it was well attended by about 35-40 people, including some significant local luminaries in the economist community.

These sorts of initiatives should be lauded as a good attempt to continue to keep our profession relevant and to engage with members of the broader community who may be tempted to engage with us. I’ll be going again in the near future, and I’d strongly encourage current ESA members to consider going to the next one.

La Trobe Academics v Professional Staff Cricket Match

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I love playing cricket! I qualify that statement – I love playing cricket twice a year…no more. As Danny Glover said famously (and repeatedly) to Mel Gibson: “…I’m getting too old for this shit”.

Yesterday, I played in the time-honoured traditional Academics v Professional Staff Cricket Match at La Trobe (known informally as the ‘Dons v Hawks’). The match goes back to 1985, and I first played in this fixture in 1998, playing almost every year since (we managed to revive it after a few years of recent inactivity). It used to be a 35-over-a-side match on Sunday afternoon; but as times have changed, with increasing difficulty of securing sufficient participation, we shortened it to a Twenty20 match on a mid-week evening straight after work (I’m on the 4-person organising committee). That worked a treat!

The event was a bona fide success – we even had the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson come along to present the Credit Union Trophy to the winners. Full match report here (see pp.9-10), but in short, but we (Dons) made it three in a row (overall historical head-to-head about even), managing to bowl the Admin Staff out for a paltry 82 in a low-scoring affair (the outfield was extremely heavy), with the successful reply of 4/84 coming in comfortable time, albeit conservatively – the only time I actually like seeing Hawks lose! I was pleased with my return of one catch, 2/11 and 7* (I was there at the finish).

The body does not get much time to recover (I did say two matches per year). Next Wednesday, in a very different match, our School of Economics and Finance takes on Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) in a fixture dating back to my first year at LTU of 1997. In almost every single year from 1997-2009, I was responsible for organising the La Trobe end of the bargain. When playing away, this involved getting a team together (including ring-ins from other Schools for a full team), as well as organising practice sessions, playing gear and a match ball. When playing at home, it involved the additional responsibilities of hiring the ground (Lower Playing Fields) and arranging light refreshments for after the game in the Donald Whitehead Building Level 4 Tea Room. This event is an important annual social event, and had the benefit of academic interaction with some of our contemporaries at Monash.

UPDATE: We lost the match against CoPS, as usual (those guys train for weeks before-hand). Gutted! As seen below, I absolutely cruised through to 23 before being out LBW, despite clearly edging the ball first. Can we get DRS for social matches as well?

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Introduction to My Blog

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Hello and welcome to my new blog. I am a Senior Lecturer in Sports Economics at La Trobe University. I have decided to call this blog: Sports, Economics and Some Other Stuff In-between, and I think it’s pretty apt description of what you can expect to see over the coming posts. I intend not to be absolutely prolific with blogging, so I won’t be posting for the sake of it; but rather merely just when I think I have something genuinely interesting to say. I hope you enjoy!