Two Universal, Probabilistic Measures of Competitive Imbalance

27 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2014 Last revised: 10 Dec 2015

See all articles by M. Kevin McGee

M. Kevin McGee

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Date Written: October 3, 2014


I propose two universal measurements of competitive imbalance. The first is, like those in the existing literature, based on team season win-loss records. The second is based solely on the outcomes of the various series of individual match- ups during a season. Both measures will on average equal the expected value of (2p-1)^2, where p is the “typical” probability that the stronger team will win any particular game. Both measures will average zero when a league is competitively balanced, and will converge to 1 as the league approaches perfect imbalance. And both measures are universal, in that they are on average independent of the number of teams in the league and the number of games played during the season.

Keywords: Sports, Sampling

JEL Classification: C46, L83

Suggested Citation

McGee, M. Kevin, Two Universal, Probabilistic Measures of Competitive Imbalance (October 3, 2014). Applied Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

M. Kevin McGee (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh ( email )

800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI WI 54901
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics