Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Review: The Wages of Wins

Review: The Wages of Wins by David Berri, Martin Schmidt and Stacey Brook

This book is written by economists on their analysis in the world of sports. They tried to approach their work similar to the approach that fellow economist Steven Levitt did in his book Freakonomics (co-written with Stephen Dubner). The book is written for the non-economist so there is little math and economic mumbo-jumbo in the text. When the authors cannot get by without mentioning regression analysis or correlation, it does seem they try to explain it clearly with words and not just numbers. Still, this book will be enjoyed more by those that have at least a tiny grasp of these concepts.

The topics that are covered in this book include: the impact of strikes/lockouts in professional sports on fan attendance, competitive balance in major sports leagues, who is better: Shaq or Kobe (the designing of a model to value a NBA players contribution to team wins), and the inconsistency of NFL quarterbacks. A general theme throughout the book is to step away from the long-held beliefs of sports fans and GMs, but to look at issues and problems from an analytical perspective. The results they get from the data are often interesting and different than one would expect.

The topics are thought-provoking (although not always 100% convincing, it does make you think deeply about many issues) and the book is easy to read. The authors’ goal of transforming their articles in economics journals into a book for everyone is a success. These economists even inject some humor throughout the book! Overall, I recommend this book to all sports fans, particularly NBA fans.

For the sports gambler: there is not much in this book that can help you directly. Their general thought process when attacking some problems may be useful in an indirect way.

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