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A question from an econ major

Len Berman poses a puzzle:

I co-majored in economics in college. A lot of good that does me now. I can't figure out what's going on in pro sports.

Let's start with television. In case you haven't heard, the ratings are down for the Stanley Cup Finals, the NBA Finals and the Belmont. Everywhere you turn, fewer people are watching than before. Yet salaries, ticket prices, and the cost of hot dogs continue to go up. Does that make any sense?

Like Berman, I find the current state of sports a bit puzzling. I spoke at a local function yesterday and was asked the question whether pro sports were "pricing themselves out of the market." This was once an old and tired complaint, but it may now have fresh legs. Prices are higher than ever, and it is true that the revenues flowing in would seem to justify them. Its been a great ride, economically speaking, in the past few decades. But apparently I'm not alone in sensing that we might be near some sort of a market peak. Owners and their handmaidens in the media have clearly been milking the cow, but are they feeding it?