Mauro Caselli, Paolo Falco, Gianpiero Mattera, 22 July 2021

Racism in football returned to the headlines recently following racial abuse of England players on social media after the final of the UEFA European Championship. How does the harassment of supporters affect discriminated athletes? Using the COVID-19 lockdown as a natural experiment, this column compares the performance of individual football players in the Italian Serie A with and without fans at the stadium. The evidence shows that players of African origin, who are most frequently targeted by racist abuse, perform better in the absence of supporters.

Dmitry Dagaev, Alex Suzdaltsev, 13 September 2015

Designing a tournament to keep each game or round as exciting as possible for spectators is, as you might imagine, complex and nuanced. Yet, most sporting tournaments use a basic ‘knock-out’ model, and have done for years. This column argues that tournament organisers ought to be more creative, and illustrates a model and examples suggesting that tournament organisers should not confine themselves to tradition. Choosing the proper scheme is a hard but feasible goal for tournament designers.

Matthew Kotchen, Matthew Potoski, 24 December 2011

Many spheres of economic activity rely on expert ratings to guide individuals’ choices. An obvious concern arises when evaluators have incentives to distort ratings for private gain. This column uses data from the USA Today Coaches Poll of the top 25 teams in US college football to study whether agents are able to overcome conflicts of interest and provide unbiased rankings. It finds strong evidence that coaches distort rankings for reputation benefits and financial rewards.

Christina Felfe, Michael Lechner, Andreas Steinmayr, 04 November 2011

Does all work and no play make Jack a dumb boy as well as a dull one? This column presents one of the first empirical studies on the effects of sporting activity on the cognitive ability of children in Germany.

Markus Brückner, Evi Pappa, 16 September 2011

Does hosting the Olympic Games provide the economic benefits that so many politicians proclaim? This column argues that hosting the Games raises the expectations of future output and in doing so promotes investment, consumption, and overall activity. It suggests that the Olympic Games can be seen as having a positive anticipation effect on the aggregate economy.

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