Beautiful Game Theory

Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics

IGNACIO PALACIOS-HUERTA
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wq05z
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  • Book Info
    Beautiful Game Theory
    Book Description:

    A wealth of research in recent decades has seen the economic approach to human behavior extended over many areas previously considered to belong to sociology, political science, law, and other fields. Research has also shown that economics can provide insight into many aspects of sports, including soccer.Beautiful Game Theoryis the first book that uses soccer to test economic theories and document novel human behavior.

    In this brilliant and entertaining book, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta illuminates economics through the world's most popular sport. He offers unique and often startling insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. He also looks at finance, experimental economics, behavioral economics, and neuroeconomics. Soccer provides rich data sets and environments that shed light on universal economic principles in interesting and useful ways.

    Essential reading for students, researchers, and sports enthusiasts,Beautiful Game Theory is the first book to showwhat soccer can do for economics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5031-0
    Subjects: Economics, Mathematics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    Toward the end of the 2001–2 soccer season, a group of young members of the Brigade of Martyrs of Al Aqsa met with a reporter from theSunday Timesof London in the depths of a basement in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. The candidates to martyrdom were talking to the journalist about the pain of their people, their wish to die rather than live like slaves, and their dreams of hearing Israeli mothers mourn their sons’ deaths, when another member of the group stormed into the basement. “Manchester United, 5,” he announced, “West Ham United, 3. Beckham scored...

  4. FIRST HALF
    • 1 PELÉ MEETS JOHN VON NEUMANN IN THE PENALTY AREA
      (pp. 9-30)

      The Hungarian national soccer team of the 1950s was one of the greatest soccer teams in the history of the 20th century. It played against England at Empire Wembley Stadium on November 25, 1953, in front of 105,000 people, in what was termed “the match of the century.” Hungary was the world’s number one ranked team and on a run of 24 unbeaten games. England was the worlds number three ranked team, and unbeaten at Wembley for 90 years against teams from outside the British Isles. In what was then considered a shocking result, Hungary beat England 6–3.

      As...

    • 2 VERNON SMITH MEETS MESSI IN THE LABORATORY
      (pp. 31-44)

      A few years ago, a match in the Argentine provinces had to be abandoned just seconds before the finish when the referee, who had just awarded a penalty, was knocked out by an irate player. The league court decided that the last 20 seconds of the game—the penalty kick, in effect—should be played the next Sunday. That gave everyone a week to prepare for the penalty.

      At dinner a few nights before the penalty, the goalkeeper, El Gato Díaz, mused about the kicker: “Messi kicks to the right.”

      “Always,” said the president of the club.

      “But Messi knows...

    • 3 LESSONS FOR EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN
      (pp. 45-57)

      We learned in chapter 2 that when the exact question being asked is mirrored in a laboratory experiment and the population being studied is the same as in the field, the outcomes from the experiment can be just as clear and informative. This result suggests that when either the exact question being asked is not mirrored or the population being studied differs, the outcomes from the experiment probably do not parallel those observed in the field. Here we use this insight to draw four lessons for experimental design using the games, methods, and results from the previous chapters.

      We have...

    • 4 MAPPING MINIMAX IN THE BRAIN
      (pp. 58-67)
      Antonio Olivero, Sven Bestmann, Jose Florensa Vila and Jose Apesteguia

      The Obama administration and the European Commission are currently planning two different multiyear research efforts to produce an “activity map” that would show in unimaginable detail the working of the most complex organ in the body: the human brain. The first objective of these efforts is to gain a much deeper understanding of how the brain works. The final aim, probably unattainable for several decades, is to know how the brain generates perception, consciousness, memories, and thoughts and to find ways to intervene and influence such brain activities. Ideally, there will be many clinical benefits as well. The new knowledge...

    • 5 PSYCHOLOGICAL PRESSURE ON THE FIELD AND ELSEWHERE
      (pp. 68-86)

      In the early 1960s, Rafael Ballester was a prestigious journalist in Cádiz, a city in the south of Spain. Cádiz is well known in the world of football because for decades it has organized a famous international summer tournament in early August, the Trofeo Ramón de Carranza. Each year, four different teams are invited. They play four games in two days, the semifinals on Saturday and, on Sunday, the match that determines the third and fourth place in the tournament is played, followed by the final.

      Quite often the semifinals on Saturday ended up being tied, and the teams had...

  5. HALFTIME
    • 6 SCORING AT HALFTIME
      (pp. 89-104)

      George Best (May 22, 1946–November 25, 2005) was the first celebrity soccer player and “unquestionably the greatest British player ever” (Best 2004). In a captivating autobiography of the same title as this chapter, written in a breezy, self-deprecating style, Best (2004) gives us not only interesting suggestions for potential activities at halftime, but also ideas for how to spend time before and after games, too.

      Nowhere in his autobiography, however, does Best appear to show an interest in the stock market. And why would he? He may well have been uninterested in investing. After all, why postpone current pleasures...

  6. SECOND HALF
    • 7 FAVORITISM UNDER SOCIAL PRESSURE
      (pp. 107-123)

      Social environments influence individual behavior. This important aspect has long been the focus of the literature on endogenous preference formation but only where convincing empirical tests are difficult to find. This chapter is concerned with the effect of nonmonetary incentives on behavior, in particular with the study of social pressure as a determinant of corruption. The analysis differs from extensive work in the literature on corruption both in the origin of the incentives to deviate from honest behavior (social pressure) and in the agent whose behavior is studied (a judge).

      Few people receive as much pressure as some judges—in...

    • 8 MAKING THE BEAUTIFUL GAME A BIT LESS BEAUTIFUL
      (pp. 124-150)
      Luis Garicano

      Strong incentives often have dysfunctional consequences. CIA field agents rewarded on the number of spies recruited fail to invest in developing high-quality spies (WMD Commission Report 2005, p. 159). Civil servants rewarded on outcomes in training programs screen out those who may most need the program (Anderson et al. 1993; and Cragg 1997). Training agencies manipulate the timing of their trainees’ performance outcomes to maximize their incentive awards (Courty and Marschke 2004). Teachers cheat when schools are rewarded on student test scores (Jacob and Levitt 2003). A theoretical literature going back at least 30 years (for instance, Kerr 1975; Holmstrom...

    • 9 FEAR PITCH
      (pp. 151-163)

      Think firecrackers, flying bottles, flares raging through the stands, agitated police dogs, and the lingering threat of violence. Think homemade bombs, street battles, and prearranged match-day fights with stones, baseball bats, and knives. Think racist chanting and swastikas.

      Chances are you will find them at these games: Flamengo vs. Fluminense in Brazil, Ajax vs. Feyenoord in Holland, Olympiakos vs. Panathinaikos in Greece, Liverpool vs. Manchester United in England, Red Star vs. Partizan in Serbia, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in Spain, Celtic vs. Rangers in Scotland, Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahçe in Turkey, Lazio vs. Roma in Italy, and Boca Juniors vs. River...

    • 10 FROM ARGENTINA WITHOUT EMOTIONS
      (pp. 164-173)

      People are both emotional and rational. They have passions and they have interests (Hirschman 1977). It may not come as a big surprise, but in scientific research, it is often not trivial to delineate between rationality and emotions. Although the rationality principle provides excellent guidance to understand human acts, it is sometimes difficult to know when we can expect one type of behavior or the other. The analysis in the previous chapter shows that people exhibit both innate emotional responses to certain events and some capacity to control their emotions and limit their overreactions; the analysis also showed that the...

    • 11 DISCRIMINATION: FROM THE MAKANA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION TO EUROPE
      (pp. 174-192)

      Mandela knew better than anyone that sports represent an excellent setting to document racial differences. For decades, he witnessed black inmates playing soccer in Robben Island at the Makana Football Association while whites played rugby in the rest of the country. If his intuition was right, sports would also be extremely valuable to break down racial differences. With the benefit of hindsight, it is no surprise that he picked sports to try to do just that. And among sports, he picked one of the more far-fetched causes imaginable: the white people’s sport (rugby) and the national rugby team (the Springboks)...

  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 193-194)
  8. REFERENCES
    (pp. 195-204)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 205-211)