Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sports Econmics: JEL Recognition and a Reminisce

So, sports economics has its own JEL codes.  In addition to other paths I have followed to sports economics publication (e.g., the “L-path” in Industrial Organization), there is now a “Z-path”.

I join the current leadership in sports economics—Peter von Allmen and Dave Berri— hailing the new JEL codes as overdue recognition of the area.  But I’m also sure the codes are a mixed blessing (note that sports economics is under "Specialty Topics" as Z2, that is, the second specialty topic after Cultural Economics, probably with more to come).  The Z-path does, indeed, recognize sports economics and that is nice.  But the codes also duplicate other paths (e.g., the L-path has an industry studies sub-specialty that includes sports).  The Z-path also codifies the “sub-specialty” path many journal editors tell us to take anyway, back to our specialty journals.

Whatever.  The new codes won’t change my approach to sports economics at all and I wonder if they will for anybody else?  For me, the new codes will just make it easier to identify some of my work for the editors at the JSE and IJSF, for example.

The JEL accomplishment does do one thing for me.  It reminds me of the continual progression of sports economics from some pretty humble origins.  My thanks go to Joel Maxcy and Bruce Johnson for their help on the following recollections.

Larry Hadley (I miss him) and Elizabeth Gustafson organized the first WEAI sessions at the San Diego Sheraton on Harbor Island in 1995.  They hosted a cocktail party in a suite at the Sheraton and we remember it being pretty crowded, but joint recollection dredges up only Larry, Elizabeth, Dan Marburger, Bruce Johnson, Bill Kaempfer, and yours truly.

Please let me know if you were there and I will update the recollection.  Thanks in advance.

The 1995 version was successful and Larry and Elizabeth continued on organizing sports economics sessions-- next at the Westerns in San Francisco in 1996 and Seattle in 1997.  By 1998 (Lake Tahoe), the sessions ran most of a day.  I know, pretty small compared to the all day/all conference sessions of today.

And they were very fruitful sessions that followed.  I remember especially the 2001 San Francisco meetings where I first met my long-time collaborator, Young Hoon Lee.  Our first paper was in, of course, EI (2005).  We now have nine pieces together, and a co-edited volume just out (The Sports Business in the Pacific Rim, Springer Verlag, 2015).  Like I said, fruitful indeed.

It is also worth noting the first sports economics professional association which still struggles on today, namely, the International Association of Sports Economists.  I recall completely the IASE founders, Paul Staudohar and Vladimir Andreff.  The early IASE activity brought together those who would later sort themselves out first into NAASE and, most recently, into EASE.

It continues to be an interesting progression.