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Sports economists win Nobel prize

OK, not quite, but the work of Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson has much relevance to sports economics and the design of sporting contests such as leagues, championships and so on. Their key insights relate to the design of mechanisms when agents have private information. The economic framework for analysing these problems (e.g. ensuring that rules are “incentive compatible”, i.e. the payoff to breaking them is not greater than obeying them) was laid down by these guys, and insights into the regulation of monopolies and so on were important consequences of their work. It’s not hard to think of a whole host of current sports issues to which their work is relevant: incentives and revenue sharing; creating mechanisms to prevent match fixing; doping. Moreover, the notion of a sports competition itself can be thought of as a mechanism designed to elicit maximum effort from contestants.

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