Measuring sports performance

Yesterday I learned the following:

1. Team payroll and team wins are not strongly correlated in the major U.S. sports.

2. Labor disputes and lock-outs do not have a long-run negative effect on attendance and receipts.

3. Problems of competitive balance come from the distribution of playing talent, and sports leagues do not much remedy the problem by salary caps and the like.

4. In the NBA, team wins attract crowds more than does star power.

5. The great NBA players do less to make their teammates better than is often supposed; in fact many great players make their teammates worse.

6. In statistical terms, the better players do not play much better, if at all, during the NBA playoffs.  (TC: But for sure they try harder, especially on defense.)

7. NBA decision-makers do not seem to understand the value of players.  In particular they tend to overvalue scoring.

All of that is from the new The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport, by David Berri, Martin Schmidt, and Stacey Brook.  Here is the book’s home page.  Here is the book’s blog.  Here are my early season NBA predictions.

Addendum: Here is Malcolm Gladwell’s review.


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