Thursday, October 8, 2009

Addicted to Baseball?

Sorry for the very scarce posting lately. I'm actually working on research projects with 3 different professors and taking 2 and a half classes right now. It hasn't made for much time here. I had a post about my fantasy season, but decided that it was simply not interesting to anyone but me, so I had trimmed it down to players that best helped or hurt my teams this year, and who may be in that position next year. Right before I was about to post, I caught this post over at Fantasy Ball Junkie and I didn't want to be a copycat.

Anyway, this post is in reference to a paper I recently read by Young Hoon Lee. Dr. Lee is an econometrician from Korea who researches sports (especially baseball), among other topics. I've been in contact with him about a few things related to GAUSS, but I haven't had extensive discussions. He's wicked smart, and he's quite a resource for econometric questions. A recent paper he released in 2008 with Trenton Smith (Washington State) discusses economic models of addiction and how Americans may actually be addicted to baseball. The addiction is in the same sense as one would be addicted to anything else. In economic terms, addictive goods are characterized by "increasing marginal utility of consumption". In non-nerd terms, that means the more you buy something, the more fun you get out of it per thing bought. So, in baseball terms, for each game you attend, the next one is even more enjoyable for you than the last. The paper goes into not only economic addiction, but anthropological and psychological theories of addiction and sport fandom as well. If you have academic access, I'd recommend reading it. Here's the citation:

Smith, T. & Lee, Y. H. (2008). Why are Americans addicted to baseball? An empirical analysis of fandom in Korea and the U.S. Contemporary Economic Policy, 26, p. 32-49.

Apparently, Koreans are not addicted to baseball, while Americans are. This is a topic I'd actually like to get my hands dirty with once I start up my dissertation and possibly extend to other sports. It really sounds like a good tie-in between Economics and Management in sport. I wonder if there are papers about this from the perspective of the participant, rather than just the fan. I know as a player, I would feel withdrawl-type symptoms (not physically, but emotionally) when I had to stop playing baseball. I still miss it, and slow-pitch softball just doesn't fill in that empty gap of competitiveness that baseball does.

Do we have any admitted 'baseball addicts' in our midst?

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