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Online Courses

EC370 Economics 370:  The Economics of Sports

Sports are such a pervasive activity throughout the world, and economists have done much research.  This course studies some of the issues addressed in the study of sports by economists.  The tools of economics are used increasingly in sports to analyze strategy, design contests, form leagues, determine pay, assess discrimination, evaluate rules changes, monitor umpires, rank performance and organize betting markets.  These economic tools include such techniques as dynamic programming, game theory, market analysis, rank ordering and statistical reasoning.  In this sense, the course is an exercise in economic thinking about a fascinating and fun topic.  There is another reason to study sports economics: sports are the laboratory of economics.  Sports provide a controlled setting where one can examine economic forces at work.  In the study or sports one confronts many of the important questions of the discipline: what determines earnings, how do incentives affect performance, is discrimination declining in significance, where does collusion exist and what are its consequences, how does the law influence outcomes, are asset markets efficient and what is the role of the public sector.

This course is skill based and includes a number of projects.  Some of the skills are statistical, such as performing a hypothesis test or running a simple regression on Excel.  I will give you recipes to follow for how to do each.  Also, each project has a template spelling out exactly what is assigned and a recipe of step by step instructions for how to complete it.  You demonstrate competence in one skill and then move on to the next.  Competence shows up in the problem sets, quizzes and projects and these scores determine final grades – there are no exams.  Examples of projects might include topics such as: testing the “hot hand theory” in basketball; determining if “icing the kicker” in football is an effective strategy; figuring out the key factors that impact attendance for baseball games.


Michigan State University Department of Economics