IJSF Author Q&A: Todd Jewell

Researchers trace the advance of a line of research through citation trails, a progression of published articles through time.  But each published article is like an iceberg: it’s just the visible tip of the research project, and most of the big, important stuff lies below, unobservable.  The IJSF blog is a useful way to expose some more of the iceberg, and can help us learn more about the space in between published papers, where the interesting part of the research process takes place.

Todd Jewell is a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of North Texas.  His research focuses on applied microeconomics with an emphasis on health, labor and sports.  He has published extensively on labor applications in sport.  His paper “Estimating Demand for Aggressive Play: The Case of English Premier League Football” was published in IJSF 4.3.

1. Where did you get the idea for this paper?

I am a big fan of the English Premier League (Manchester United is my favorite team, I can’t stand Liverpool or Arsenal), and I have noticed that some EPL teams seemed to play more aggressively, and sometimes even play better, when they were a man down. This thought peaked my curiosity about the cost and benefit of teams playing aggressively. I assumed that there was a “price” of getting a red card in terms of a lower probability of winning, but I discovered that there wasn’t much research that measured such a price in association football (soccer). So, there seemed to be a minor hole in the literature. After finding evidence of the price of aggressive play in the EPL, it was a short intellectual jump to a supply and demand analysis of red cards.

2. What were some of the challenges that you faced when working on this research?

The biggest challenge was dealing with the estimation issue of endogeneity. Anytime a researcher has a model of supply and demand, endogeneity is an issue. Although I am comfortable with how I handled it, I’d like to get more data and do the study again using some different methods. This type of robustness check would make me more confident in my results.

3. How does this paper fit in your research agenda?

With this paper, I am trying to re-establish my research agenda in sports economics. I plan to continue in the area of “soccer economics” into the foreseeable future.

4. How do you see this paper moving the literature forward?

As stated above, there was a hole in the literature with respect to the cost of a red card in soccer. This paper fills that hole, by measuring the actual “price” and by establishing that teams respond to the price. The paper also supports research in other sports (mainly hockey) indicating that participants in sporting contests respond to negative incentives.

5. Describe a future research project that you would like to see that builds on your paper.

I have several projects in the works that build on this paper. First, I am looking at red-card prices and behavior in other soccer leagues (US Major League Soccer, Spanish Primera Liga, Italian Serie A, French League 1, and German Bundesliga). Preliminary results indicate that the responsiveness to red-card price (“red-card-price elasticity”) differs significantly from league to league. My focus is on determining why the differences exist, with the intention of predicting the effects of potential UEFA regulation changes. Second, I am collecting data on attendance and revenues, in an attempt to understand the relationship between violence/aggression and attendance demand.

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