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Bring Your Questions for the Sports Economists

“I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past 20 years, you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduce them to a laughing stock.”

— George Costanza upon meeting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Seinfeld, “The Opposite” (season 5, 1994). Quoted in Stumbling on Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports.


A lot of sports fans are just like George Costanza, watching their favorite teams make the same mistakes over and over again, while the perfect solution seems obvious all along. (If it’s that bad for the Yankees, the winningest pro franchise in U.S. sport history, just imagine how bad it is in Milwaukee.) In their new book Stumbling on Wins, the economists David J. Berri (Southern Utah University) and Martin B. Schmidt (William & Mary — the alma mater of a certain NFL head coach) explain this phenomenon while revealing sports decision-makers’ big mistakes. They also identify the sports stats that are truly useful, explore the role of great coaches, and determine whether black quarterbacks are underpaid.
Berri and Schmidt are also the authors, along with Stacey Brook, of The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport. They blog?here.
They have agreed to take your sporting questions, so fire away in the comments section below. As always, we’ll post their answers in short course. It is an exciting moment in the annual sports calendar — basketball and hockey beginning their playoffs, the baseball season still fresh enough to inspire enthusiasm in nearly every quadrant, and (sadly) a very active police blotter for Pittsburgh Steelers fans to follow.
Addendum: Berri and Schmidt answer your questions here.