The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Deterring Divorce through Major League Baseball?

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 23, 2009

fenway-parkBusinessWeek has an engaging piece on a new study from the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies which finds that cities with major league baseball teams have a 28% lower divorce rate than other cities.  We excerpt the piece below.

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The family unit is society’s fundamental unit—95 percentage of US citizens marry by age 55. A marriage breakdown is one of the most stressful life events possible, yet more than one in three will experience the trauma of divorce. Not surprisingly, the dynamics of relationships are increasingly the focus of ever more research. The University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies in particular is constantly shedding new light on the institution of marriage with recent research findings establishing that the quality of the relationship with parents-in-law is directly connected to marital satisfaction, and more recently, that 90 percent of couples experience a decrease in marital satisfaction once their first child is born.

A new study from the centre looking at divorce rates before and after cities got Major League Baseball teams is fascinating in its implications. The study showed that cities with major league baseball teams had a 28 percent lower divorce rate than cities that wanted major league baseball teams. Can marital harmony really be this simple?

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University of Denver (DU) director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies, psychology professor Howard Markman also studied divorce rates in other cities that welcomed a major league team and found a 30 percent decline in divorces in Phoenix, a 30 percent drop in Miami and a 17 percent drop in Tampa Bay area. While there could be many explanations for this significant difference, Markman stresses the importance of fun and friendship in a healthy marriage. Going to baseball games is one way couples can have fun together and talk as friends.

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For the rest of the piece, click here.  For related Situationist posts on the apparent power of Major League Baseball, see Jon Hanson and Michael McCann’s Attributing Blame: From the Baseball Diamond to the War on Terror and The Competitive Situation of Youth Baseball and Softball.

Posted in Life, Situationist Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Situation of Baseball Skills

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 19, 2008

Greg Spira had an interesting article, “The Boys of Late Summer,” last week in Slate. The article examines the situational significance of birthdates on who makes it to the Bigs. (We’re grateful to Situationist friend Andrew Perlman for calling our attention to this article.)

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In 2000, John Holway argued in a book called The Baseball Astrologer that the sign under which an individual was born played a significant role in whether he made it in pro ball. Holway identified a real phenomenon, but the explanation does not lie in the stars. Since 1950, a baby born in the United States in August has had a 50 percent to 60 percent better chance of making the big leagues than a baby born in July. The lesson: If you want your child to be a professional baseball player, you should start planning early. Very early. As in before conception.

The table below lays out the full month-to-month data. As of the 2005 season, 503 Americans born in August had made it to the major leagues compared with 313 American born in July. . . .
The pattern is unmistakable. From August through the following July, there is a steady decline in the likelihood that a child born in the United States will become a major leaguer. Meanwhile, among players born outside the 50 states, there are some hints of a pattern but nothing significant enough to reach any conclusions. An analysis of the birth dates of players in baseball’s minor leagues between 1984 and 2000 finds similar patterns, with American-born players far more likely to have been born in August than July. The birth-month pattern among Latin American minor leaguers is very different—if anything, they’re more likely to be born toward the end of the year, in October, November, and December.

from Slate

The magical date of Aug. 1 gives a strong hint as to the explanation for this phenomenon. For more than 55 years, July 31 has been the age-cutoff date used by virtually all nonschool-affiliated baseball leagues in the United States. Youth baseball organizations including Little League, Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth, PONY, Dixie Youth, Hap Dumont, Dizzy Dean, American Legion, and more have long used that date to determine which players are eligible for which levels of play. (There is no such commonly used cutoff date in Latin America.) The result: In almost every American youth league, the oldest players are the ones born in August, and the youngest are those with July birthdays. For example, someone born on July 31, 1990, would almost certainly have been the youngest player on his youth team in 2001, his first year playing in the 11-and-12-year-olds league, and of average age in 2002, his second year in the same league. Someone born on Aug. 1, 1989, by contrast, would have been of average age in 2001, his first year playing in the 11-and-12-year-olds division, and would almost certainly be the oldest player in the league in 2002.

Twelve full months of development makes a huge difference for an 11- or 12-year-old. The player who is 12 months older will, on average, be bigger, stronger, and more coordinated than his younger counterpart, not to mention more experienced. And those bigger, better players are the ones given opportunities for further advancement. Other players, who are just as skilled for their age, are less likely to be given those same opportunities simply because of when they were born. . . .

This phenomenon will not come as news to social scientists, who have observed the same patterns in a number of different sports. The first major study of what has become known as the “relative age effect” . . . determined that NHL players of the early 1980s were more than four times as likely to be born in the first three months of the calendar year as the last three months. In 2005, a larger study on the relative age effect in European youth soccer . . . . found a large relative age effect in almost every European country, though it seems to shrink in adult leagues and is less significant in women’s soccer. . . .

Interestingly enough, the relative age effect doesn’t appear in the two other major American sports leagues. . . .

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To read more about the relative age effects, including possible explanations for the exceptions and the effects of the new April 30 cutoff date, link to the entire story here.

Posted in Life, Situationist Sports | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rational Choice Myth – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 18, 2008

by Erwin Boogert on Flickr

Michael Dorff recently posted his interesting paper, “The Rational Choice Myth: The Selection and Compensation of Critical Performers,” on SSRN. Here’s the abstract.

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Some positions within an organization wield unusual impact over the entity’s success. The decision makers who hire these critical performers face a daunting task: to distinguish among closely comparable finalists in a context where small differences in talent can produce enormous outcome divergences. I apply research from psychology and behavioral law and economics to argue that decision makers demonstrate unwarranted confidence in their ability to distinguish among nearly identical candidates. The illusion of validity, representativeness bias, insensitivity to predictability, and the fundamental attribution error all impede decision makers’ ability to make these fine distinctions. Once they have made a selection, cognitive dissonance induces inappropriate confidence in the outcome’s validity and promotes excessive compensation. Involving a group in the decision may worsen these effects by imbuing outcomes with the false veneer of market legitimacy through social cascades and by discouraging contrary views throug hexcessive consensus or groupthink.

I examine two types of critical performers with these insights: professional baseball players (where individual contributions to the enterprise can be measured directly) and public company CEOs (where they cannot). I conclude that in both contexts, these phenomena produce inefficient selection and compensation outcomes. While the relative absence of externalities argues against mandatory regulation in baseball, I propose changes in private ordering that should improve efficiency. In the corporate context, I argue that regulation is called for and propose a combination of mandatory compensation caps linked to firm size and a reverse auction among CEO finalists to determine the successful candidate.

Posted in Abstracts, Choice Myth, Situationist Sports, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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