Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Determinants of Attendance in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: Role of Winning, Scoring, and Fighting

Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Determinants of Attendance in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: Role of Winning, Scoring, and Fighting

Article excerpt

Introduction

The economic study of sports, once thought to be confined to antitrust law and labor contracts, took on a much different context after the introduction of Sportometrics by Goff and Tollison (1990). Economists now routinely study sports as a laboratory of general economic behavior by investigating the actions of players, coaches, referees, general managers, and team owners. Topics such as individual and managerial incentives, the organizational behavior, income distribution, competitive structure, and the efficient markets hypothesis were studied with sport-specific and general economic insights and conclusions obtained. An additional group which can also be examined through Sportometrics-style studies is consumers of sports; the fans themselves. Estimating consumer demand for sports is important to the overall business of sports and to the individual teams and leagues involved. Major and minor league sports have been investigated to attempt to determine what factors attract fans to spend their disposable income on sports-related entertainment.

Attendance in the sport of hockey has not been studied as often as other sports, particularly baseball, where economists have always had a keen interest. Attendance studies of hockey have mostly focused on the effects of fighting and rule changes. These studies of hockey include Jones (1984), Jones et al. (1993), Jones et al. (1996) and Paul (2003) in relation to the highest professional level of hockey, the National Hockey League (NHL). Recently, more general studies of hockey attendance have begun to surface including studies by Hong (2009) and Rascher et al. (2009). Hong (2009) focuses on the different between casual and avid fans and the factors which attract them to hockey games. Rascher et al. (2009) estimated the impact of the NHL lockout on minor league hockey and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

This study expands the investigation of the determinants of hockey attendance to major junior hockey. The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) consists of three separate leagues: the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Western Hockey League (WILL), and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). These leagues consist of many of the top teenagers in Canada and imports from around the world. These leagues directly compete for talent with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) collegiate hockey in the United States, with the majority of the top players typically choosing the junior hockey route over collegiate hockey (with some notable exceptions). Major junior hockey is closer in stature to the NHL and its minor leagues as the CHL leagues allow fighting within their contests and generally are considered to have a more physical style of game than the U.S. college system. Due to its similarities with the NHL, coupled with the fact that these players are only teenagers, not full adult professionals, allows for a study of fan preference for hockey attributes such as winning, scoring, and fighting in this setting.

This study specifically studies the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the 2009 to 2010 season. Each team in the QMJH played 68 regular season games. Data on attendance, team records, scoring, and fighting were taken from box scores available on the official league website, www.lhjmq.qc.ca. Our study attempts to determine how sensitive fans of major junior hockey in Quebec (and surrounding areas) are to the key game attributes of hockey. This information will help shed light on if hockey fans have universal preferences across leagues or if there are some attributes which fans of junior hockey, specifically junior hockey in Quebec, find more or less favorable than fans of other levels of hockey or in other areas of the country.

Regression Model for 2009 to 2010 QMJHL Attendance

Game-by-game attendance for each contest was gathered from box scores on the QMJHL website, www.lhjmq.qc.ca. For each game, the final score, the number of fights, and basic information such as the month of the year and the day of the week was taken from the league schedule and individual box scores. …

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