Making the Rules of Sports Fairer

SIAM Review, March 2018, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2016 Last revised: 19 Dec 2017

See all articles by Steven J. Brams

Steven J. Brams

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Mehmet Ismail

King's College London, Department of Political Economy

Abstract

The rules of many sports are not fair — they do not ensure that equally skilled competitors have the same probability of winning. As an example, the penalty shootout in soccer, wherein a coin toss determines which team kicks first on all five penalty kicks, gives a substantial advantage to the first-kicking team, both in theory and practice. We show that a so-called Catch-Up Rule for determining the order of kicking would not only make the shootout fairer but also is essentially strategy proof. By contrast, the so-called Standard Rule now used for the tiebreaker in tennis is fair. We briefly consider several other sports, all of which involve scoring a sufficient number of points to win, and show how they could benefit from certain rule changes, which would be straightforward to implement.

Keywords: Sports rules, fairness, strategyproofness, Markov process, soccer, tennis

JEL Classification: C72, D63

Suggested Citation

Brams, Steven and Ismail, Mehmet, Making the Rules of Sports Fairer. SIAM Review, March 2018, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2737672 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2737672

Steven Brams (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

Dept. of Politics
19 West 4th St., 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-8510 (Phone)
212-995-4184 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://politics.as.nyu.edu/object/stevenbrams.html

Mehmet Ismail

King's College London, Department of Political Economy ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/mehmetsismail/

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