Writing about Sex and the Super Bowl for Time.com

The past two days I have had two different stories posted at Time.com.   Let me start by briefly discussing the story that just appeared today.

Economists are often looking for ways to make the subject more interesting (at least, the “interesting” economists are trying to do this!).   I have spent my career using economics to study sports.  Marina Adshade — an economics professor at the University of British Columbia — uses economics to study sex.   This research is detailed in the book Dollars and Sex.   She also has a blog of the same title.  And you can even watch her lecture on this subject.

Marina also writes for Time.com.  And today, we posted a story combining our two research interests.  Sex and the Super Bowl details the role testosterone plays in the game.  First, we detail how the game appears to impact testosterone levels in male fans (and the subsequent outcome of those changes).  Then we discuss how testosterone levels impact who ultimately gets to play the game.

I think the story of how the games impact the fans is extremely interesting.  We might think that sports don’t really impact the lives of fans.  But this story suggests that sports has the power to create changes in the fans physical chemistry.  So that seems to suggest that sports do have a real impact on those who are just watching the games.

Of course, sports fans probably already suspected this was true.  And recently, fans of the Pistons had a very different reaction to their team in 2014-15.  Yesterday I posted a story at Time.com — How Losing a Star Player Can Be a Big Win in the NBA — looks at the firing of Josh Smith.  One might think losing a player who leads your team in shot attempts wouldn’t help.  But it turned out, the Pistons got better without Smith.  And as I note, this is not the first time this has happened.

In fact, Arturo Galletti calls this general phenomenon “the Rudy Gay rule“.   Losing an inefficient high-volume scorer actually helps a team win more games.  Of course, it remains true that such players still earn major paydays.  So this market inefficiency continues to exist.

Both of these stories should be continued in subsequent academic research.  So look for more on this in the future.

– DJ