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The extent to which unbalanced schedules cause distortions in sports league tables

  • Lenten, Liam J.A.

The Australian Football League (AFL) has operated its fixture on the basis of an unbalanced schedule since the league expanded from 12 to 14 teams in 1987. This system contains a number of factors (some random) determining the set of bilateral combinations of teams that play each other on an extra occasion during the course of the season, not least of all maximising attendances. While the status quo may be unavoidable to some extent (it is also a bone of contention to many fans), its implications for within-season measures of competitive balance are nonetheless obvious. This is because of the potential for biases being created in the end-of-season league table as a result of the unbalanced schedule. This paper uses a modified model to correct for this inherent bias over the seasons 1997-2008, and the results are discussed in detail. The model is also generalisable to many unbalanced schedule designs observed in professional sports leagues worldwide.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VB1-51066MS-4/2/e68d4b7ac29e64aef0b3629fd9a2f189
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economic Modelling.

Volume (Year): 28 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (January)
Pages: 451-458

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:28:y:2011:i:1-2:p:451-458
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30411

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  1. Rodney J. Paul & Andrew P. Weinbach & Peter C. Melvin, 2004. "The Yankees Effect: The Impact of Interleague Play And The Unbalanced Schedule On Major League Baseball Attendance," New York Economic Review, New York State Economics Association (NYSEA), vol. 35(1), pages 3-15.
  2. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  3. Joshua Utt & Rodney Fort, 2002. "Pitfalls to Measuring Competitive Balance With Gini Coefficients," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(4), pages 367-373, November.
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  5. Simon Rottenberg, 1956. "The Baseball Players' Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 242.
  6. Allen R. Sanderson & John J. Siegfried, 2003. "Thinking About Competitive Balance," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0318, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  7. Sutter, Matthias, 2006. "Endogenous versus exogenous allocation of prizes in teams--Theory and experimental evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 519-549, October.
  8. Rodney J. Paul, 2003. "Variations in NHL Attendance," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 345-364, 04.
  9. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
  10. Howard J. Weiss, 1986. "The Bias of Schedules and Playoff Systems in Professional Sports," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(6), pages 696-713, June.
  11. Liam J. A. Lenten, 2008. "Unbalanced Schedules And The Estimation Of Competitive Balance In The Scottish Premier League," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 55(4), pages 488-508, 09.
  12. Booth, Ross, 2005. "Comparing Competitive Balance in Australian Sports Leagues: Does a Salary Cap and Player Draft Measure Up?," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 119-143, September.
  13. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
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