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Incentives to Quit in Men’s Professional Tennis: An Empirical Test of Tournament Theory

By Will Walker

This paper studies the influence of incentives on quitting behaviors in professional men’s tennis tournaments and offers broader implications to pay structures in the labor market. Precedent literature established that prize incentives and skill heterogeneity can impact player effort exertion. Prize incentives include prize money and indirect financial rewards (ranking points). Players may also exert less effort when there is a significant difference in skill between the match favorite and the match underdog. Results warrant three important conclusions. First, prize incentives (particularly prize money) do influence a player’s likelihood of quitting. Results on skill heterogeneity are less conclusive, though being the “match favorite” could reduce the odds of quitting. Finally, match underdogs and “unseeded” players may be especially susceptible to the influence of prize incentives when considering whether to quit.

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Advisors: Peter Arcidiacono and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J41, J31, J32, J33, M12, M51, M52

Game Theory and The World Marathon Majors

By Benjamin Jones

The World Marathon Majors (WMM) Series Prize was enacted in 2006 as a million dollar prize handed out annually to the top man and woman competing at five of the most important marathons. This paper considers the motivations behind setting up this prize, as well as the theoretical rationale for its existence and whether the empirical data supports these results. We find that the game theory model supports the ideas that the World Marathon Majors organizers state as their goals in creating the prize, but at the same time, there is not much empirical support as of yet to support any quantifiable changes within marathoning in the past few years. The regressions do not produce statistically significant data for finishing times decreasing even though the world record has been broken three times in these races since the implementation of the WMM. This may be due to the small number of observations and the fact that the series is so new. However, there are other areas of interest, such as an increase in World Record-breaking times or an increase in overall publicity, that may justify such a lucrative prize for these races. These topics are not included within the regressions and could be an area for further study.

 

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Advisor: Curtis Taylor, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C7, C73, L83 | Tagged: Game Theory, Marathon, Sports Economics, Tournament Theory

Incentives in Professional Tennis: Tournament Theory and Intangible Factors

By Steven Seidel

This paper analyzes the incentives of professional tennis players in a tournament setting, as a proxy for workers in a firm. Previous studies have asserted that workers exert more effort when monetary incentives are increased, and that effort is maximized when marginal pay dispersion varies directly with position in the firm. We test these two tenets of tournament theory using a new data set, and also test whether other “intangible factors,” such as firm pride or loyalty, drive labor effort incentives. To do this, we analyze the factors that incentivize tennis players to exert maximal effort in two different settings, tournaments with monetary incentives (Grand Slams) and tournaments without monetary incentives (the Davis Cup), and compare the results. We find that effort exertion increases with greater monetary incentive, and that certain intangible factors can often have an effect on player incentives.

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Advisor: Curtis Taylor, Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J31, J33, L38 | Tagged: Compensation, Sports, Tournament Theory

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