IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Economic Design of Sporting Contests

  • Stefan Szymanski

This paper reviews the literature on commercial sport through the lens of the economic theory of contests/tournaments. It seeks to draw together research on incentives in individualistic sports such as golf and footraces with the research on uncertainty of outcome and competitive balance in team sports such as baseball and soccer. The contest framework is used to analyze issues such as the optimal distribution of prizes, the impact of revenue sharing, salary caps, draft rules, and a variety of other restraints commonly employed in sports leagues. The paper draws heavily on a comparative analysis of contest organization, in particular between North America and Europe.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Literature.

Volume (Year): 41 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 1137-1187

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:41:y:2003:i:4:p:1137-1187
Note: DOI: 10.1257/002205103771800004
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D., 1993. "The Solution of the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when R > 2 : Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Discussion Paper 1993-68, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1993. "The Solution to the Tullock Rent-Seeking Game when r>2: Mixed-Strategy Equilibria and Mean Dissipation Rates," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1039, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. La Croix, Sumner J & Kawaura, Akihiko, 1999. "Rule Changes and Competitive Balance in Japanese Professional Baseball," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(2), pages 353-68, April.
  4. Green, Jerry R & Stokey, Nancy L, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 349-64, June.
  5. Martin B. Schmidt & David J. Berri, 2001. "Competitive Balance and Attendance: The Case of Major League Baseball," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 2(2), pages 145-167, May.
  6. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  7. Scott E. Atkinson & Linda R. Stanley & John Tschirhart, 1988. "Revenue Sharing as an Incentive in an Agency Problem: An example from the National Football League," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 27-43, Spring.
  8. Michael T. Maloney & Robert E. McCormick, 2000. "The Response of Workers to Wages in Tournaments," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(2), pages 99-123, May.
  9. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "Digging for Golden Carrots: An Analysis of Research Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 872-90, September.
  10. Cyrenne, Philippe, 2001. "A Quality-of-Play Model of a Professional Sports League," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(3), pages 444-52, July.
  11. Luigi Buzzacchi & Stefan Szymanski & Tommaso Valletti, 2003. "Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Outcome: Open Leagues, Closed Leagues and Competitive Balance *#We thank the Editor and an anonymous referee for helpful comments," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 167-186, September.
  12. Daniel, Rascher, 1999. "A Test of the Optimal Positive Production Network Externality in Major League Baseball," MPRA Paper 25832, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Dasgupta, Ani & Nti, Kofi O., 1998. "Designing an optimal contest," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 587-603, November.
  14. Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso, 2004. "First and Second Prizes in Imperfectly Discriminating Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 4484, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Mark Duggan & Steven D. Levitt, 2000. "Winning Isn't Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling," NBER Working Papers 7798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Beck A. Taylor & Justin G. Trogdon, 2002. "Losing to Win: Tournament Incentives in the National Basketball Association," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 23-41, January.
  17. Meade, James E, 1974. "Labour-Managed Firms in Conditions of Imperfect Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 817-24, December.
  18. Scully, Gerald W, 1974. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 915-30, December.
  19. Frederic Palomino & Jozsef Sakovics, 2000. "Revenue sharing in professional sports leagues: for the sake of competitive balance or as a result of monopsony power?," ESE Discussion Papers 59, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  20. Leo Kahane & Stephen Shmanske, 1997. "Team roster turnover and attendance in major league baseball," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 425-431.
  21. El-Hodiri, Mohamed & Quirk, James, 1971. "An Economic Model of a Professional Sports League," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(6), pages 1302-19, Nov.-Dec..
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:41:y:2003:i:4:p:1137-1187. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.