Over at the Sports Economics blog, Madmen has attracted some interest. John Considine recently pointed to some high profile examples of when a soccer referee changes the outcome of the match because of how much stoppage time is added. In most such instances, there’s a strong perception of unfairness. Arguably no one, including referees but especially teams and fans, wants matches decided arbitrarily. In response, momentum builds for a change in the rules. Considine likens the soccer scenario to the shot clock story that we tell in the opening of Chapter 1. In both cases, the rules of the game were generating undesirable outcomes. A change in the rules creates improved incentives for how to play (or, in this case, how to referee) the game, which in turn improves outcomes for teams and spectators — something league investors ultimately care very much about. Considine concludes:
Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers is not a sports economics book. Rather, it is a book about how economic ideas matter for political change. The sporting incident is used as an example of how, when people are unhappy by the outcomes produced within the existing rules, they set about changing the rules of the political and economic game. Leighton & Lopez use the sporting analogy because they argue that sports are controlled experiments in human behaviour. Many would agree. It is a book worth reading for the economists among those who read this blog.