Peter von Allmen, professor and chair of the Department of Economics
and Business, has an abiding interest in sports. In the past, he's
played golf and ice hockey; these days, he's a competitive cyclist
as well as a duathlete and triathlete. He teaches a course on the
economics of sports. And many of his research activities have to
do with sports.
One article that he will see published this summer in the Atlantic
Economic Journal has the dry academic title of "The Influence of
Structural Changes and International Players on Competitive Balance
in the NHL." It was written with Aju Fenn of Colorado College, Stacey
Brook of the University of Sioux Falls, and Tom Preissing, a defensive
player for the San Jose Sharks. And thereby hangs a tale.
Von Allmen says the article began at the Western Economic Association
meeting in 2003, where he and Brook gave a paper on the influence
of international players on competitive balance, only to discover
that Fenn and Preissing, who had been Fenn's student at Colorado
College, had similar interests. So they pooled their data.
"It was more interesting, to me anyway, [because] Tom is a current
NHL player," von Allmen said. Then he added ruefully, for this discussion
took place in February: "Well, right now no one is a current NHL
player because of the labor stoppage!" The NHL owners and players
sat out the season but resolved their dispute in May.
"Tom Preissing signed with the Sharks after finishing four years
at Colorado College," e-mailed David Pollak, who writes about hockey
for the San Jose Mercury News. "He's a very bright guy."
If you wade through the title, the article discusses the dynamics
of a sport that's still building a constituency when many of the
players are foreigners (Russians, Scandinavians, Central Europeans)
who have no ties to the community and little command of English.
Many such are Preissing's teammates. So here is Tom, below, being
defensive, and in his spare time a researcher with a link to Moravian