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Are NBA Fans Becoming Indifferent to Race? Evidence from the 1990s

Author

Listed:
  • Richard C.K. Burdekin

    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Richard T. Hossfeld

    (Duke University School of Law)

  • Janet K. Smith

    (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

Previous studies, using data from the 1980s, found that racial composition of NBA teams is positively correlated with racial composition of the metropolitan markets in which the teams are located. Researchers have interpreted this evidence as consistent with a "customer discrimination" hypothesis. We reconsider this hypothesis by examining evidence from the 1990s and generate three principal findings. First, based on player performance statistics, we find no evidence of discrimination at the league level--that is, the best players appear to be playing in the league regardless of race. Second, players, categorized by race, are not randomly distributed across teams. Instead, the relationship between team racial composition and metropolitan area racial composition, while weaker than in the 1980s, persists in the NBA in the 1990s. Hence, teams located in areas with greater concentration of white population may find it revenue enhancing to cater to customer demand for viewing teams that include white players. Our third finding, based on revenue from home game attendance, is that as the number of white players declined significantly over the decade, the revenue product of a white player increased on the margin. This effect appears to be more pronounced for teams located in cities with larger white populations. We also find evidence that, in recent years, the top-performing white players in the NBA tend to locate in cities with larger white populations, suggesting that teams in these cities place a higher marginal value on such players.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard C.K. Burdekin & Richard T. Hossfeld & Janet K. Smith, 2002. "Are NBA Fans Becoming Indifferent to Race? Evidence from the 1990s," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-12, Claremont Colleges.
  • Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2002-12
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    File URL: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/rdschool/papers/2002-12.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jijfss:v:6:y:2018:i:1:p:24-:d:134290 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Scott Tainsky & Jason A. Winfree, 2010. "Discrimination and Demand: The Effect of International Players on Attendance in Major League Baseball," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(1), pages 117-128.
    3. repec:lan:wpaper:3964 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Scott Tainsky & Monika Stodolska, 2010. "Population Migration and Team Loyalty in Professional Sports," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(3), pages 801-815.
    5. Olugbenga Ajilore, 2014. "Do white NBA players suffer from reverse discrimination?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(1), pages 558-566.
    6. Scott Tainsky & Brian M. Mills & Jason A. Winfree, 2015. "Further Examination of Potential Discrimination Among MLB Umpires," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 16(4), pages 353-374, May.
    7. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2007:i:34:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:lan:wpaper:3571 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:37:p:3751-3757 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Cassey Lee, 2007. "A Cheap Ticket to the Dance: Systematic Bias in College Basketball's Ratings Percentage Index," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(34), pages 1-7.
    11. repec:lan:wpaper:3679 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. D Berri & R Simmons, 2007. "Race and the evaluation of signal callers in the national football league," Working Papers 591147, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Customer Discrimination; Race; Sports; National Basketball Association;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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