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The Sport League's Dilemma: Competitive Balance versus Incentives to Win

  • Frederic Palomino

    (Tilburg University & CEPR)

  • Luca Rigotti

    (Tilburg University & University of California, Berkeley)

We analyze a dynamic model of strategic interaction between a professional sport league that organizes a tournament, the teams competing to win it, and the broadcasters paying for the rights to televise it. Teams and broadcasters maximize expected profits, while the league's objective may be either to maximize the demand for the sport or to maximize the teams' joint profits. Demand depends positively on symmetry among teams (competitive balance) and how aggressively teams try to win (incentives to win). Revenue sharing increases competitive balance but decreases incentives to win. Under demand maximization, a performance-based reward scheme (used by European sport leagues) may be optimal. Under joint profit maximization, full revenue sharing (used by many US leagues) is always optimal. These results reflect institutional differences among European and American sports leagues.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Industrial Organization with number 0012003.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 05 Jan 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0012003
Note: 36 pages, Acrobat .pdf
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  1. Rodney Fort & James Quirk, 1995. "Cross-subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports Leagues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1265-1299, September.
  2. Palomino, F.A. & Sakovics, J., 2000. "Revenue Sharing in Professional Sports Leagues : For the Sake of Competitive Balance or as a Result of Monopsony Power?," Discussion Paper 2000-110, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Scully, Gerald W., 1995. "The Market Structure of Sports," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226743950.
  4. 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.
  5. Stefan Szymanski & Ron Smith, 1997. "The English Football Industry: profit, performance and industrial structure," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 135-153.
  6. Thomas Hoehn & Stefan Szymanski, 1999. "The Americanization of European football," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 203-240, 04.
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