Why Macroeconomists Should Watch Sports

Posted on July 29, 2010 by


My latest for the Huffington Post links the stories told in Stumbling on Wins to recent Congressional testimony by Nobel Laureate Robert Solow.  My interest in this story is twofold.

First, I wanted to once again emphasize a major story in Stumbling on Wins.  What we see with respect to decision-making in sports applies to all of economics.  Specifically, the assumption of rationality – so often employed in economics – is inconsistent with what we know about human decision-making.  And as Solow emphasizes, the assumption of rationality has an unfortunate impact on the economic advice some macroeconomists offer.

This is not the only reason I was interested in discussing the words of Robert Solow.  Currently I am the president of the North American Association of Sports Economists.  If you wish to join our group – and if you do you get a subscription to the Journal of Sports Economics (so this is worth it) — you need to fill in a membership form and mail this form (and your $50 membership fee) to John Solow. 

Who is John Solow?  He is

John was also the Ph.D. advisor of one of my favorite co-authors, Tony Krautmann.*  Tony and John are both a bit older than me.  Okay, they are both at least 10 years older than me.  And when we hang out at the annual meetings, John likes to refer to me as “the young punk.” 

This is one of the great things about academia.  In September I will be 41 years old.  If I were an athlete, I would be considered a very old man (unless I was a bowler or curler).  In academia – where I get to study sports – I am still a “young punk.”  And that might suggest my best days are ahead of me.  Then again, I am a tenured professor.  So maybe I am just going to spend the next two or three decades practicing what I will be doing in retirement (i.e. nothing).

– DJ

*- Just to clarify, I have had the pleasure of working with 25 different co-authors.  Tony definitely ranks in the top 25 :)

Posted in: Sports Econ