Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports

Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports

Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports

Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports


What economic rules govern sports? How does the sports business differ from other businesses? Playbooks and Checkbooks takes a fascinating step-by-step look at the fundamental economic relationships shaping modern sports. Focusing on the ways that the sports business does and does not overlap with economics, the book uncovers the core paradox at the heart of the sports industry. Unlike other businesses, the sports industry would not survive if competitors obliterated each other to extinction, financially or otherwise--without rivals there is nothing to sell. Playbooks and Checkbooks examines how this unique economic truth plays out in the sports world, both on and off the field.

Noted economist Stefan Szymanski explains how modern sporting contests have evolved; how sports competitions are organized; and how economics has guided antitrust, monopoly, and cartel issues in the sporting world. Szymanski considers the motivation provided by prize money, uncovers discrepancies in players' salaries, and shows why the incentive structure for professional athletes encourages them to cheat through performance-enhancing drugs and match fixing. He also explores how changes in media broadcasting allow owners and athletes to play to a global audience, and why governments continue to publicly fund sporting events such as the Olympics, despite almost certain financial loss.

Using economic tools to reveal the complex arrangements of an industry, Playbooks and Checkbooks illuminates the world of sports through economics, and the world of economics through sports.


On the first day of school a first-grade teacher explains
to her class that she is a Yankees fan. She asks her students
to raise their hands if they, too, are Yankees fans. Wanting
to impress their teacher, everyone in the class raises a
hand except one little girl.

The teacher looked at the girl with surprise and said,
“Janie, why didn't you raise your hand?”

“Because I'm not a Yankees fan,” she replied.

The teacher, shocked, asked, “Well, if you are not a
Yankees fan, then who are you a fan of?”

“I am a Red Sox fan, and proud of it,” Janie replied.

The teacher could not believe her ears. “Janie, why,
pray tell, are you a Red Sox fan?”

“Because my mom is a Red Sox fan, and my dad is Red
Sox fan, so I'm a Red Sox fan too!”

“Well,” said the teacher in an annoyed tone, “that is no
reason for you to be a Red Sox fan. You don't have to be
just like your parents all of the time. What if your mom
were an idiot and your dad were a moron, what would you
be then?”

“Then,” Janie smiled, “I'd be a Yankees fan.”

No doubt a similar joke is told in New York with the teams reversed. There are websites constructed by Red Sox fans devoted to their hatred of the Yankees. As the winningest team in the history of baseball, the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.