ECON 3520 - Sports Economics III

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2015

The course analyses the economics of the professional sports industry, which is not only big business but also benefits from public policy favour. The sports industry has many peculiar characteristics that are amenable to economic analysis. Among other topics, the course covers market structure, the labour market, public subsidies for stadia, public funding of bids for mega-events and for the events themselves, and corruption.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 3520
    Course Sports Economics III
    Coordinating Unit Economics
    Term Winter
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive course up to 14 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites ECON 1000, ECON 1004, ECON 1008
    Assumed Knowledge ECON 2504, ECON 2506
    Assessment Typically, a paper/presentation & final exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Richard Pomfret

    Course Coordinator and Co-Lecturer: Professor Richard Pomfret
    Office location: Nexus 10 Building, Room 4.36
    Telephone 8313 4751; Email  

    Co-Lecturer: Professor John Siegfried
    Office location: Nexus 10 Building, Room 4.29 
    Telephone 8313 4926; Email

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Lectures and seminars:
    11am - 1 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

    Tutorials are on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon.

    There is a one-hour mid-course examination on Wednesday, July 15, at 11:00 am, and a two-hour final examination on Friday, July 24 from 11am - 1 pm.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The University of Adelaide is a research-intensive university, which seeks to develop graduates of international distinction by supporting high quality education. The University of Adelaide provides an environment where students are encouraged to take responsibility for developing the graduate attributes listed below. Additionally, the continuing development of good inter-personal and communication skills is widely recognised as important for all graduates, and this course specifically seeks to develop students’ abilities to make oral presentations to their tutorial group, and to write a short research report based on assigned reading material.

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1 have gained knowledge of the branch of economics devoted to the sports industry
    2 have enhanced their analytical skills
    3 have gained experience in presenting a report and discussing its content
    4 have developed inter-personal and communication skills in small-group discussion
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 2, 3
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1,2, 3
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3, 4
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1, 2, 3
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1, 2
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1, 4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    We will draw mainly on two textbooks:

    Brad Humphreys: The Economics of Professional Sports: An e-Textbook
    You can buy Humphreys’ text as a self-published book on Amazon for around $35.

    John Wilson and Richard Pomfret: Public Policy and Professional Sports: International and Australian Experiences (Edward Elgar, 2014).
    This is available online to students in the course with a 30% discount. The discount code can be reached via the link:

    Other readings are available from the Barr-Smith Library electronically or in hard copy. If you are uncertain about how to access online articles, e-books or other materials read the MyUni Blurb for Economics Students posted on MyUni. If a book is on loan from the library, you can recall it , and it should be available within a week. This is important for Barr-Smith Library staff to judge demand; if there are multiple requests for a book, the library will take action to increase availability.

    Students are also recommended to purchase:
    Stefan Szymanski: Playbooks and Checkbooks: An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports (Princeton UP, 2009).
    It is available in paperback, is easy to read, and covers many of the topics in this course.

    Readings marked * are in a Subject Reader available from the Image and Copy Centre.

    Students are expected to read assignments before tutorials. Be prepared to summarize the articles and/or critically evaluate them. Class participation will be evaluated and will count five per cent toward the overall marks for the subject.

    Recommended Resources
    In addition to the listed readings, you should refer to the following collections, which are available from the Barr-Smith Library:
    Wladimir Andreff and Stefan Szymanski: Handbook on the Economics of Sport (Edward Elgar, 2009).
    Wolfgang Maennig and Andrew Zimbalist: International Handbook of the Economics of Mega Sporting Events (Edward Elgar, 2012) – BSL e-resource

    Additional readings may be posted on MyUni.

    The final exam consists of essay questions; the more widely you read (and think about the readings), the more likely you are to write better essays.
    Online Learning
    The overheads from the lectures and selected reading materials will be available on MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Each topic is divided into a lecture component and a tutorial component. The lecture covers the key concepts of a particular topic to complement the text. Tutorials will consolidate your understanding of course material by working through problems and expand your understanding of course material through group discussion.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This translates to 12 hours per week for a semester course. 
    Learning Activities Summary


    Lectures & Seminars Mon 6 July
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Introduction: Overview of sports economics [JS]
    Tuesday 7
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Demand and short-run pricing [JS]
    Wednesday 8
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Pricing in the inelastic region of demand [JS]
    Thurs 9
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Price discrimination [JS]
    Friday 10
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Scalping and pricing season tickets and individual game tickets [JS]
    Written Assignment 1 Due:
    Monday 13 11.00 - 13.00 Team and league behaviour [JS]
    Tuesday 14
    & tutorial
    11.00 -13.00 Organizing leagues [RP]
    Written Assignment 2 Due:
    No tutorial
    11.00 - 12.00 Mid-semester exam
      Thursday 16
    11.00 - 13.00 Labour markets [RP]
    (review of exam)
      Friday 17
    & tutorial
    11.00 -13.00 Broadcasting; economic impact analysis [JS]
      Monday 20
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00  Public policy - subsidies (stadia) [RP]
      Tuesday 21
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Mega-events: what are they worth? - why bid? [RP]
    Written Assignment 3 Due:
       Wed 22
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 Unethical behaviour, (corruption, doping etc) [RP]
      Thurs 23
    & tutorial
    11.00 - 13.00 overview and revision
      Friday 24
    No tutorial
    11.00 – 13.00 FINAL EXAM


  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    TUTORIALS (assignments and participation) 20%
    FINAL EXAM 50%
    Assessment Detail

    Students are expected to hand in three sets of assignments, each worth 5%, and also prepare and participate in tutorial discussion of assigned key articles.

    The mid-semester exam, whose format and content will be announced in class and posted on MyUni, is intended to provide feedback on students’ progress over the first half of the course.

    The final examination requires students to write extended essay-style answers to two questions. Sample exam questions will be posted on MyUni. The final exam will cover the entire course. All material from the classes and required readings is examinable; wider reading and deeper thinking are likely to be rewarded by higher grades. Students’ work will be assessed on the logical quality of the arguments presented and on the ability to determine which arguments better explain the facts. Legible hand-writing and the quality of English expression are considered to be integral parts of the assessment process; marks may be deducted in the final examination because of poor hand-writing. 

    Students may NOT take a DICTIONARY (English or English-Foreign) or a CALCULATOR into the examination.


    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Additional Assessment

    If a student receives 45-49 for their final mark for the course they will automatically be granted an additional assessment. This will most likely be in the form of a new exam (Additional Assessment) and will have the same weight as the original exam unless an alternative requirement (for example a hurdle requirement) is stated in this semester’s Course Outline. If, after replacing the original exam mark with the new exam mark, it is calculated that the student has passed the course, they will receive 50 Pass as their final result for the course (no higher) but if the calculation totals less than 50, their grade will be Fail and the higher of the original mark or the mark following the Additional Assessment will be recorded as the final result.
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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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