Friday, December 30, 2011

Richard Florida on city size and sports success

This piece at Atlantic Cities was less inspiring than I had hoped based on the title.

Florida spends the first part of the piece explaining why it is good to have denominators when looking at wins - i.e. to take account of the number of teams and how long they have been in the city. Indeed, but it seems like even for the Atlantic audience this point could be made in a sentence or two.

The second part makes the case for path dependence. I am sympathetic here, but there is not actually a lot of evidence, just some assertions and quotations.

What I would have liked to hear more about is how this relationship is affected when leagues actively attempt to undermine it via revenue sharing. Also, I was hoping to hear about how the number of teams matters relative to city size. Part of why Green Bay may be so successful at football is that the fan base, as well as the local government and local business, put all their energy into it, as they have no other major league teams. An implication here, that could be empirically tested, is that e.g. the Seahawks should do better now that the Sonics are gone (and the arrival of the Seahawks back when I was in high school should have led the Sonics to do worse). Similarly, the basketball, baseball and hockey teams in LA should do better in years when there are no pro football teams.

I would have thought, too, that there would be a scholarly literature that Florida could draw on when discussing these issues.

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