Competitive Balance Measures in Sports Leagues: The Effects of Variation in Season Length
Appropriate measurement of competitive balance is a cornerstone of the economic analysis of professional sports leagues. We examine the distributional properties of the ratio of standard deviations (RSD) of points percentages, the most widely used measure of competitive balance in the sports economics literature, in comparison with other standard-deviation-based measures. Simulation methods are used to evaluate the effects of changes in season length on the distributions of competitive balance measures for different distributions of the strengths of teams in a league. The popular RSD measure performs as expected only in cases of perfect balance; if there is imbalance in team strengths, its distribution is very sensitive to changes in season length. This has important implications for comparisons of competitive balance for different sports leagues with different numbers of teams and/or games played.
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