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From the Sunday Papers

Apparently the TSE folk were working the phones with reporters this week. The Seattle Times has lots of good commentary from Vic Matheson, on New Orleans, the economic impact of sports in perspective, and so forth. Even NBA Commissioner David Stern is in tune with Vic, at least in this piece:

Stern told reporters in New Orleans last week that sports teams are an entertaining diversion, but they're not the key to the city's recovery.

"When you're talking about education, housing, infrastructure and all the things the city is focusing on, sports is a good thing, but it pales in comparison," he said. "A good manufacturing plant with 3,000 jobs is a heck of a lot more important than a sports team."

But perhaps this is related to the fact that the Saints (and Seattle's Sonics) are in the midst of American professional sport's game of musical chairs.

In Oklahoma City, which is on the wooing rather than shooing end of the game, sensible commentary from Rod Fort and Rob Baade is given the usual treatment by local politicos. The pattern of the piece seems to be: get Rob or Rod to say something about what academic research has found on the impact question, and then have the president of the OKC Chamber of Commerce take a whack at it. The whacks may "sound good," but they are pretty lame whacks, especially this one, in response to the local substitution issue: "That's not true. They could have gone to Dallas that weekend and spent that money."

Ok then, I guess sports' economic impact is not important, except when it is. Then we'll obfuscate. Errr....***

Finally, this piece in the New York Times, with a cameo from me, discusses the "play to tie" strategies employed in the modern NHL. Each team gets a point in games that are tied in regulation, with the winner getting an additional point after overtime or the shootout is concluded. Clearly, overtime is when you take your chances on offense in a tight game. In overtime, the cost of aggressiveness is one-sided (the point you might otherwise gain if a team scores on the counterattack against your stretched defense), and not two-sided (since you don't lose the point from a level score once regulation time is completed).

In soccer, both teams are punished for a tie -- teams that tie share two points, whereas a winner gets three, and when the winner is determined is irrelevant -- thus inducing more aggressive offensive strategies. (I believe the move to introduce this originated in Europe; correct me if I am wrong.) In the NHL, both teams benefit from playing it safe late in a tight game, since there is one extra point awarded in games that go to overtime, and the loser retains the point from the tie that existed at the end of regulation. That's soft. I had not thought of this before, but it is yet another instance of Edward Gramlich's ironical observation that the socialist economies of Europe have more brutal and more capitalist systems of sport than the supposedly more laissez-faire America.

***One thing that comes up in the latter story is that OKC is motivated to spend money on their arena to demonstrate that they are a "big league city." I have no problem with that, but I do prefer a system that determines big league participation by play on the field....