Our recent podcast “Reasons to Not Be Ugly” examined the beauty premium, as well as the “downside of ugly.” A new paper by evolutionary biologist Erik Postma in Biology Letters highlights one more advantage of beauty: better endurance performance (in the form of faster cycling). Bill Andrews of Discover‘s D-brief blog summarizes the study’s setup:
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As the paper’s abstract explains, “Females often prefer to mate with high quality males, and one aspect of quality is physical performance.” So the more physically fit a human male is, the more human females might want to bang him. But how to test for this — and, specifically, how to test for this with the measure of physical performance being endurance, a trait not easily quantified?
How many medals will U.S. athletes win at the Sochi Winter Olympics?
To answer this question, one might want to think about the abilities of the athletes involved in each competition. And then use that information to forecast who is going to win each event.
Of course, that approach requires knowledge of the athletes involved in a wide variety of sports. Furthermore, even if you knew how to measure ability, you would also have to figure out some way to forecast each athletes’ performance.
In a recent paper by Madeleine Andreff and Wladimir Andreff — “Economic Prediction of Medal Wins at the 2014 Winter Olympics” (PDF) – an approach advocated by a number of sports economists is employed. Read More »
I get invitations to guest lecture at English universities on Wednesdays, but almost never for Wednesdays in the U.S. I didn’t know why this difference exists, until one of the inviters mentioned that many English universities keep Wednesday afternoons free of regularly scheduled classes, historically so students can engage in inter-scholastic athletics. Universities thus have created a positive coordination externality.
We economics professors don’t engage in these athletic endeavors, but the athletic coordination creates a positive externality for economists: In scheduling seminars, we know that most faculty members at other universities are free to visit, and most of our colleagues should be available to attend the seminar. (HT: NT)
There’s a story in the July 3 edition of The Australian about the Fox Footy (Australian Rules Football) Channel. That the channel exists illustrates how changing technology increases well-being. With the plummeting cost of TV production and transmission has come a great growth in the number of specialized channels. When I was a kid, the U.S. had three networks and a few independent channels in big cities. Today, things like the Fox Footy Channel have increased the ability of the medium to cater to specialized tastes.
Since I’m not the only American who likes Australian football, or footy, I expect to see the channel on U.S. TVs soon — thus increasing variety, increasing my total utility. Any thoughts on likely future channels that will cater to even more specific tastes?
I like following sports for a lot of reasons beyond the sheer entertainment; I’ve explained why here
and here. The cast of characters is constantly evolving and, often, capable of producing true drama. Sometimes this drama takes the form of an Aaron Hernandez crime story. But more often, if you’re willing to look, you’ll find the story of a Jacky Kaba or a Shamarko Thomas.
Here, read for yourselves. Jacky Kaba, originally from Liberia, played basketball at Seton Hall University and is now an associate professor of sociology there; his research has appeared on our blog. Jerry Izenberg has written a fine piece about Kaba on the occasion of his gaining U.S. citizenship.
Shamarko Thomas is an undersized defensive back just drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers; Everett Cook has written an inspiring article about his personal and familial struggles to date. I hope Thomas prospers (and I say that not just because he’s a Steeler).
The coaching carousel continues to spin in the NBA. In recent days, the Los Angeles Clippers – coming off the best season in franchise history – have decided not to bring back Vinny Del Negro as head coach. The Phoenix Suns — coming off their worst season since they were in expansion team in the late 1960s – have decided to turn to Jeff Hornacek to lead their team back to respectability. And the Atlanta Hawks – who were essentially average this last season – have turned to Mike Budenholzer to lead the team next year.
These are hardly the only teams to make a change. Since the end of the 2012-13 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers have all decided that the person who coached the team at the end of this past season shouldn’t be around for the next season. In all, at least nine of the 30 NBA teams will have a new coach next year.
These changes – as I have argued before –will probably not make much difference. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Finance (full PDF here) – which I conducted with Mike Leeds, Eva Marikova Leeds, and Mike Mondello – found that most NBA coaches across a sample covering 30 years did not have a statistically significant impact on player productivity. And in other sports, we also have evidence that coaches cannot systematically change outcomes. Read More »
For 41 years, the city of Seattle enjoyed NBA basketball. And then the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.
Across the past year, though, there was hope that the NBA was returning to the Emerald City. Sure the team was the Kings, a team that has lost at least 65 percent of their regular season games in each of the past five seasons. But if the Kings came to Seattle, other NBA teams would have to come as well (hey, the Kings-SuperSonics have to play someone). And since the prospective owners (a group led by Chris Hansen) of the “Seattle Kings-Supersonics” offered a purchase price equivalent to an enterprise value of $625 million – more than anyone else (and more than anyone has ever offered for an NBA team) – it seemed likely that in a market economy (where the highest bidder tends to get the product) that the NBA was coming back to Seattle.
Unfortunately, Seattle learned this past week that the NBA doesn’t quite follow the rules of a market economy. For Seattle to get the Kings, the other 29 owners had to approve the deal. And when the dust settled, a majority of those owners thought an inferior bid from another group that wanted to keep the team in Sacramento was preferred. Consequently, Seattle has been frustrated again. Read More »