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Suspense: Dynamic Incentives in Sports Contests


  • William Chan
  • Pascal Courty
  • Li Hao


In a dynamic model of sports competition, if spectators care only about contestants' efforts, incentive schemes depending linearly on the final score difference dominate rank order schemes based only on who wins. If spectators also care about suspense, defined as valuing more contestants' efforts when the game is closer, rank order schemes can dominate linear score difference schemes, and this will be the case when the demand for suspense is sufficiently high. Under additional assumptions, we show that the optimal rank order scheme dominates a broad class of incentive schemes. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.

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  • William Chan & Pascal Courty & Li Hao, 2009. "Suspense: Dynamic Incentives in Sports Contests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 24-46, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:534:p:24-46

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Parinduri, Rasyad & Lee, Yoong Hon & Tiong, Kung Ming, 2016. "The effects of the three-point rule in individual sports: Evidence from chess," MPRA Paper 71060, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Martin Grossmann & Helmut M. Dietl, 2009. "Investment Behaviour in a Two-Period Contest Model," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 165(3), pages 401-417, September.
    3. Kocher, Martin G. & Krawczyk, Michal & van Winden, Frans, 2014. "‘Let me dream on!’ Anticipatory emotions and preference for timing in lotteries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 29-40.
    4. Ewerhart, Christian, 2016. "An envelope approach to tournament design," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
    5. Lional Frost & Luc Borrowman & Abdel K. Halabi, 2015. "Stadiums and Scheduling: Measuring Deadweight Losses in Professional Sports Leagues, 1920-1970," Monash Economics Working Papers 07-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    6. Jan Bergerhoff & Agnes Vosen, 2015. "Can being behind get you ahead? Reference Dependence and Asymmetric Equilibria in an Unfair Tournament," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse03_2015, University of Bonn, Germany.

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