Old Dominion University
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James V. Koch

HIST 368/396

ECON 202

ECON 301

ECON 456/556

ECON 604

ECON 436

3 Semester Hours
Tuesday, 7:10-9:50 pm
Office Hours: Wednesday 10am-12pm, Tuesday and Thursday 2pm-4pm

This course should be quite enjoyable if you are a sports fan. After all, sports of all kinds occupy larger than life roles in American society. Many individuals follow the exploits of sports teams and individual athletes. Some form diehard, lifetime attachments to teams such as the Redskins, the baseball Cardinals, the Fighting Irish, the Monarchs or the Maury High School Commodores. Very few Americans do not know who Kobe Bryant and Shaquille OíNeal are. Interestingly, while sports fans like to back winners, many enduring sports attachments donít necessarily depend upon whether the team or the athlete actually wins; witness the Chicago Cubs.

The economic impact of sports---both professional and amateur---is substantial, but not as large as some believe. A typical major league sports team, for example, has an economic impact smaller than that of Old Dominion University. Even so, sports teams hold a tight grip on the attention and imaginations of many individuals. The sports section of a typical newspaper usually is larger than any other specialty section and usually has the most readers of any specialty section. Sports broadcasts occupy prime positions on radio and television stations and increasingly on the Internet. Fans blather on about their favorite team in bars, letters to the editor and on the Internet, and demonstrate their loyalty by wearing hats, jerseys, etc. Fans, university presidents, mayors and governors often fall all over themselves courting or flattering especially talented athletes. Demonstrably, many athletes are held to different behavioral standards than other citizens. Many cities and states provide substantial subsidies for professional sports teams even though the rate of return on those subsidies is small or even negative. Clearly, for some, sports are an obsession.

Can we utilize economic analysis to help us understand these fascinating phenomena? The answer is yes. We canít explain everything we see in sports by means of economic analysis, but the most pressing issues in sports today nearly always are economic in nature. Further, the most significant changes that have occurred in sports in recent years have had economic causes. The aim of this course is to enable you to understand these phenomena and even to analyze and predict the future. Plus, we want to have a bit of fun along the way.

We will use a variety of techniques to stimulate your learning about the economics of sports. I will lecture; we will host some guest speakers who work full-time in sports; and, you will follow and report on one professional sports franchise and one Division I universityís athletic operations Iíll assign the teams and universities; youíll work with a partner. Iíll expect a well-researched, thoughtful report (which will be made to the class) of no more than ten pages that utilizes economic analysis to explain the core of this teamís or universityís situation. Our guest speakers will include individuals from both professional and amateur sports, including intercollegiate sports.