Category: Sports

Markets in everything

Chessboxing
has a convivial party atmosphere and is far more female friendly than a normal
boxing crowd, with 40% of tickets purchased by ladies.

Here is more, with the subheader Swedish Chessboxing Sensation in London.  About a year ago, five or so people sent me links about chessboxing for "Markets in Everything."  I didn't think it was weird enough to merit inclusion in the series.  But now, with the addition of "Swedish" and "ladies" to the mix (or is it the "convivial party atmosphere"?), I think it is weird enough.  Here is Wikipedia on chessboxing.

Small steps toward a much better world, a continuing series

Remember that guy Hayek?  Or is it Walras?

The San Francisco Giants are experimenting with a possible solution – software that weighs ticket sales data, weather forecasts, upcoming pitching matchups and other variables to help decide whether the team should raise or lower prices right up until game day.

The story is here and I thank the excellent Michael Makowsky for the pointer.

Markets in everything: non-simultaneous trades

Via Al Roth, here is an NBA example which makes my head spin:

"Here is a more complicated example of a legal non-simultaneous trade:
a team has a $4 million Traded Player exception from an earlier trade,
and a $10 million player it currently wants to trade. Another team has
three players making $4 million, $5 million and $7 million, and the
teams want to do a three-for-one trade with these players. This is
legal — the $5 million and $7 million players together make less than
the 125% plus $100,000 allowed for the $10 million player
($12,600,000), and the $4 million player exactly fits within the $4
million Traded Player exception. So the $4 million player actually
completes the previous trade, leaving the two teams trading a $10
million player for a $5 million and a $7 million player. From the other
team's perspective it's all just one big simultaneous trade: their $4
million, $5 million and $7 million players for the $10 million player. "

The law of one price?

Jason Kottke informs us:

Ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium are so high that if a New
Yorker wants to watch a Mariners/Yankees game from the best seats, it would be a lot cheaper to fly to Seattle, stay in a nice hotel, eat fancy dinners, and see two games.

Was it not Mises who said that the purchasing power of money is the same everywhere?  Some of the price differential will come from the greater value of the business connection in New York.  And maybe those seats are really good.

Elsewhere from kottke.org, here is a post on breeding rats to be better stock traders.

Debating Economics

Intelligence Squared has held a series of debates in which they poll ayes and nayes before and after.  How should we expect opinion to change with such debates?  Let’s assume that the debate teams are evenly matched on average (since any debate resolution can be written in either the affirmative or negative this seems a weak assumption).  If so, then we ought to expect a random walk; that is, sometimes the aye team will be stronger and support for their position will grow (aye after – aye before will increase) and sometimes the nay team will be stronger and support for their position will grow.  On average, however, we ought to expect that if it’s 30% aye and 70% nay going in then it ought to be 30% aye and 70% nay going out, again, on average. Another way of saying this is that new information, by definition, should not swing your view systematically one way or the other.

Alas, the data refute this position.  The graph shown below (click to enlarge) looks at the percentage of ayes and nayes among the decided Underdogbefore and after.  The hypothesis says the data should lie around the 45 degree line.  Yet, there is a clear tendency for the minority position to gain adherents  – that is, there is an underdog advantage so positions with less than 50% of the ayes before tend to increase in adherents and positions with greater than 50% ayes tend to lose adherents.  What could explain this?

I see two plausible possibilities.

1) If the side with the larger numbers has weaker adherents they could be more likely to change their mind.

2)  The undecided are key and the undecided are lying.

For case 1, imagine that 10% of each group changes their minds; since 10% of a larger number is more switchers this could generate the data.  The problem with 1 and with the data more generally is that we don’t seem to see a tendency towards 50:50 in the world.  We focus on disputes, of course, but more often we reach some consensus (the moon is not made of blue cheese, voodoo doesn’t work and so forth).

Thus 2 is my best guess.  Note first that the number of “undecided” swing massively in these debates and in every case the number of undecided goes down a lot, itself peculiar if people are rational Bayesians.  A big swing in undecided votes is quite odd for two additional reasons.  First, when Justice Roberts said he’d never really thought about the constitutionality of abortion people were incredulous.  Similarly, could 30% of the audience (in a debate in which Tyler recently participated (pdf)) be truly undecided about whether “it is wrong to pay for sex”?  Second, and even more doubtful, could it be that 30% of the people at the debate were undecided–thus had not heard arguments in let’s say the previous 10 years that converted them one way or the other–but on that very night a majority of the undecided were at last pushed into the decided camp?  I think not, thus I think lying best explains the data.

Some questions for readers.  Can you think of another hypothesis to explain the data?  Can you think of a way of testing competing hypotheses?  And does anyone know of a larger database of debate decisions with ayes, nayes and undecided before and after?

Hat tip to Robin for suggesting that there might be a tendency to 50:50, Bryan and Tyler for discussion and Robin for collecting the data.

Authentication markets in everything

"Nothing is too mundane to be authenticated, if deemed potentially
valuable. Cans of insect repellent used to combat the midges that
swarmed the 2007 playoffs in Cleveland were authenticated. So were
urinals pulled from the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis and office
equipment from since-razed Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The
Phillies are cutting the clubhouse carpet from last season into
authenticated 18-by-24-inch mats. "

Indeed, "…every game has
at least one authenticator, watching from a dugout or near one. The
authenticators are part of a team of 120 active and retired
law-enforcement officials sharing the duties for the 30 franchises.
Several worked the home openers for the Yankees and the Mets, helping
track firsts at the new stadiums. They verified balls, bases, jerseys,
the pitchers’ rosin bag, even the pitching rubber and the home plate
that were removed after the first game at Yankee Stadium. "

Here is more, from the blog of Al Roth.

Trade and the signaling benefits of hosting the Olympics

Andrew Rose and Mark Spiegel report:

Economists are skeptical about the economic benefits of hosting
“mega-events” such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup, since such
activities have considerable cost and seem to yield few tangible
benefits. These doubts are rarely shared by policy-makers and the
population, who are typically quite enthusiastic about such spectacles.
In this paper, we reconcile these positions by examining the economic
impact of hosting mega-events like the Olympics; we focus on trade.
Using a variety of trade models, we show that hosting a mega-event like
the Olympics has a positive impact on national exports. This effect is
statistically robust, permanent, and large; trade is around 30% higher
for countries that have hosted the Olympics. Interestingly however, we
also find that unsuccessful bids to host the Olympics have a similar
positive impact on exports. We conclude that the Olympic effect on
trade is attributable to the signal a country sends when bidding to
host the games, rather than the act of actually holding a mega-event.
We develop a political economy model that formalizes this idea, and
derives the conditions under which a signal like this is used by
countries wishing to liberalize.

An ungated copy of the paper is to be found here (which, I should note, I have not read). 

Could it be unobserved heterogeneity, namely that up-and-coming nations (and there is no perfect way to control for that) are the ones who apply to host the Olympics?  It costs a lot of money to put together a bid and Albania is simply not going to try.  It is hard for me to believe that unsuccessfully submitting a bid to host the Olympics should boost exports by 30%.  The simpler model is that winner's curse holds, overbidding for the games results, bidding is also driven by rent-seeking and special interests, but since the bidders are up-and-coming cities in the final analysis the complaints don't sound so convincing.

Why was Michael Jordan’s shot so flat?

File this one under: "Questions I still wonder about."  I can think of a few options:

1. Michael Jordan wasn't a very good shooter.  (True at first, but it is hard to maintain this hypothesis over the course of his career.)

2. Jordan was weak on one dimension of shooting ability, but he compensated along other dimensions.  He could have been a better shot, if only he had learned proper arc from Mark (and Brent) Price.

3. Jordan's flat shot was part and parcel of an efficient combination of talents.  Perhaps the flat shot gave him a quicker release or different angles at the basket or a greater ability to shoot while moving or all of those.  Check out "The Shot" at 2:20 here

Maybe his flat shot, when combined with his other talents, gave him an advantage. Since few other players have had the complementary talents as Jordan did, they haven't had an incentive to develop or stick with flat jump shots.

Jordan had a good three-point shot under pressure but when he was open his long-range shooting was unreliable.  That combination is consistent with this hypothesis.  Here is a short Yahoo discussion.

In my heart of hearts, I believe #3 is the answer.

Questions: Can any feature of the U.S. economy be said to be akin to Jordan's flat jumper?  Any feature of your personal cognitive profile?

Interracial workplace cooperation, or the Steve Nash paper

At least in the NBA, it is good, as reported by Price, Lefgren, and Tappen:

Using data from the National Basketball Association (NBA), we examine
whether patterns of workplace cooperation occur disproportionately
among workers of the same race. We find that, holding constant the
composition of teammates on the floor, basketball players are no more
likely to complete an assist to a player of the same race than a player
of a different race. Our confidence interval allows us to reject even
small amounts of same-race bias in passing patterns. Our findings
suggest that high levels of interracial cooperation can occur in a
setting where workers are operating in a highly visible setting with
strong incentives to behave efficiently.

Here is the paper, here are ungated copies.

Chess is now a young man’s game

Here are the latest ratings.  You have to go down all the way to #61 (Nigel Short) before you find a player older than 40.  It didn’t used to be that way.  For instance in 1963 Mikhail Botvinnik was world champion at age 53.

The game is more competitive, more players come from countries where chess is relatively new (China and India will give you young stars, not old stars), and there is great value from training with computers.  If you didn’t start training with computers until you were thirty-five years old, you are at a serious disadvantage. 

Consistent with these hypotheses, there are also more and more prodigies in chess.  Can you think of any other reasons for the falling ages of top chess players?  I also see a general principle operating: the more exact a "science" the game becomes, the smaller is the value of accumulated experience relative to sheer skill.

A Lot to Lose

Ted Frank and Ray Lehmann are taking the Stickk approach to weight loss to an extreme.  For every pound less than 60 (!) that Ray fails to lose in the next 9 months he has agreed to pay Ted, $1000.  Thus as much as $60,000 is on the line.  Ted has made the same bet with Ray.  The world has been put on notice.

Now this does raise an interesting prisoner’s dilemma problem, with Ted and Ray as the prisoners.  If the prisoners can agree to "cooperate" they could both eat and lose neither weight nor money.  But with $1000 per pound at stake can Ray count on Ted not to cheat on his diet by dieting (and vice-versa)?  But in this context is cooperation really cooperation or is it just joint self-sabotage?  A true dilemma.  But I have a solution.

I stand ready to be Leviathan!  As a service to my friends, I propose that Ted and Ray pay me $1000 for every pound less than 60 that they fail to lose.  Hell, out of the goodness of my heart, I will pay each of them $500 upfront for the honor of being Leviathan.  Now that is an incentive! 

Need I tell you that Ted and Ray are long-time loyal MR readers?       

No way would I go bungee jumping

INTJ – The Scientists

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it – often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be physically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communicating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. Since they are extremely good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.

Analysis
This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.

The analyzer is here.

Million Dollar Arm

Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the "Million Dollar Arm" that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster….The contest was sponsored by a California sports management company that believed it could locate major league-worthy arms in a country of more than 1 billion…

They were just signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Here is more and thanks to Michael Tofias for the pointer.  Here is the web site for the show.  Here is information on the initial announcement of the prize contest.