The Economics of Professional Team Sports


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And they will also, on average, be the ones in bigger cities, because more revenues can be made in bigger cities. That is why professional sports teams in cities with large populations tend to have records above. Exceptions to the rule that financially stronger teams are better are some small-market teams, such as Oakland and Montreal, that, for certain periods of time, develop high-quality players in their farm-team system.

Such a strategy can produce relatively competitive teams in a small market while keeping player salaries relatively low. Of course, the exception proves the rule. Once these players win substantial salary increases through arbitration or become free agents, big-market teams often hire them away. It is easy to see why large-market teams do better in the era of free agents, when a star player can move to whichever team will pay him the most.

In basketball and hockey, the home team gets all of the gate receipts and the visitor gets nothing. The gate division is in baseball and in football. When the home team gets to keep more of the gate receipts, the teams in bigger cities get more of the benefit from their inherent financial advantage. When the split is more equal, the financial advantage of being in a bigger market is less.


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But in all sports, revenues from national television contracts have grown as a percentage of total revenues, and TV revenues are divided equally among the clubs. As a result, the differences in the financial strength of teams have narrowed. Big-city domination, though not completely eliminated, has diminished.

By their very nature, sports leagues are cartels that exclude competition from other companies.

You cannot start a baseball team and hope to play the Yankees unless you can get Major League Baseball the cartel to grant you a franchise. The antitrust laws prohibit cartels, but professional sports is the only private business in the United States that is largely exempt from those laws. Ever since a court decision Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v.

Organisational Models of Professional Team Sports Leagues

National League et al. No other sport enjoys such a blanket exemption from antitrust, but all professional team sports have a labor exemption and, since the Sports Television Act of , a broadcast exemption. All of the leagues have collusive agreements that govern the selection, contractual arrangements, and distribution of players among the teams. Collectively, these agreements grant a degree of monopsony power monopoly power over the right to buy something—in this case, player services to owners. The owners exploit this power by paying the players less than their incremental contribution to revenue.

Athletes enter most professional team sports through a drafting procedure. The common feature of the drafts is that they grant one team exclusive bargaining rights with each prospective player.

Once drafted, the athlete negotiates with that team alone, and others cannot offer higher salaries to get him. In some instances, signing bonuses for draft choices are very high. Such instances are relatively rare and depend on the quality of the player and the labor-market structure of the sport.


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In baseball, where drafted players usually are assigned to the minor leagues, face relatively long careers on average, are not constrained by a salary cap, and are paid their salaries for the length of their contracts—which can be for several years—large signing bonuses for amateurs are rare. In football, where players face a salary cap, careers are short—less than three years, on average—and salary is not guaranteed if the player fails to make the team or is injured during the season, signing bonuses can be high for impact players. The rules affecting the amateur draft have been weakened somewhat over the years, but competitive bidding for beginning players remains impeded.

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Close Preview. Toggle navigation Additional Book Information. Summary This book is unique in that it offers the first truly rigorous application of economic principles to its subject. Amongst the topics discussed are the US system of franchising and draft picks and the chances of their being adopted elsewhere, the implications of player strikes, the onset of pay-per-view and digital television, and the relatively new notion that sport is a business like any other. Request an e-inspection copy.

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Section A: The Economics of Professional Sports and Leagues

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The Economics of Professional Team Sports
The Economics of Professional Team Sports
The Economics of Professional Team Sports
The Economics of Professional Team Sports
The Economics of Professional Team Sports
The Economics of Professional Team Sports

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