The Economics of American Sports Leagues

Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 47, Issue 4, October 2000

Posted: 21 Jul 2001


Player mobility in North American sports leagues is limited by labor market constraints designed ostensibly to allow teams to recoup player development costs and to maintain competitive balance within leagues. Theory holds that the distribution of talent will be invariant under any institutional configuration, and that while rules to constrain movement will serve to enhance monopsonistic exploitation of talent, they will have no effect on competitive balance. This paper reprises a general theory through which the effects of the labor market constraints can be comparatively analyzed for American sports leagues. The economics of sports has been relegated to the realm of labor theory by the unnecessarily limiting assumption that owners of sports clubs are single-minded profit maximizers. This paper also presents a theory that seeks to unify capital market decisions of financial leverage and ownership syndication with operational labor market decisions for athletic talent and an owner's desire to win.

Suggested Citation

Vrooman, John, The Economics of American Sports Leagues. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 47, Issue 4, October 2000, Available at SSRN:

John Vrooman (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University ( email )

School of Medicine
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
421-7460 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics