think sometimes students take the class thinking that theyre
going to talk about their favorite team. And they end up talking
about my favorite economics, says Peter von Allmen, who teaches
a popular course called The Economics of Sports and,
with Michael Leeds of Temple University, has written a textbook
to go with it.
his course, the grey terminology of introductory economicsfrom
supply and demand to cost continuumtakes on color when illustrated
with stories from the sports pages.
of it! Theres an entire section of the newspaper devoted to
that industry every day, says von Allmen, who has taught at
Moravian since 1990 and chairs its Department of Economics and Business.
And the debate over whether a city builds a new stadium is
as likely to appear on the front page as in the sports section.
knows sports are big business, as much a part of the economic landscape
as school levies and highway construction projects. You dont
have to follow baseball to know that its players went on strike
in the not-too-distant past, and every taxpayer has a stake in public
subsidies for stadiums and arenas.
courses in sports economics have been taught for years, only recently
has the field become a recognized subspecialty, with its own scholarly
publication (Journal of Sports Economics)and now, a
now, sports economics courses have relied on chapters from other
economics books and readings from newspapers and journals. This
collage approach relies on a certain level of research sophistication,
von Allmen says, and thats a lot to expect of the undergraduates
in the course.
Economics of Sports, already adopted by more than 20 schools
across the country, addresses such standard economics topics as
industrial organization, monopoly and antitrust legislation, public
finance, and labor issuesnot only as they apply to professional
sports but also to college sports, where the same problems are complicated
by academic requirements and expectations.
Allmen played intercollegiate golf as an undergraduate at a Division
III school, the College of Wooster in Ohio, and became a Philadelphia
Flyers fan during his graduate study at Temple, where Leeds was
on his dissertation committee. He also played on a company hockey
team at Merck & Co. (I was a ringer!) until last
year. After a couple of injuries, he has switched to a safer pastime:
the triathlon. For peace and quiet, he fishes.
his course nor the book offers unconditional sports boosterism.
The relationship between professional sports and cities is
one of the great hoodwinkings of American history, says von
Allmen cheerfully. Theres a mountain of economic evidence
that having a professional team does nothing for the economic development
of a city.
the complex web of facts behind such conundrums that makes The
Economics of Sports a delight to teach, says von Allmen. The
students almost always come to class having done the reading. They
have a grasp of current events and opinions about whats right
and whats wrong. I think its a blast.
learn more about The Economics of Sports, visit www.aw.com/leeds_vonallmen.