DOI: 10.1177/15270025231217965 ISSN: 1527-0025

A Note on the Preferences of Sports Fans: Partisanship Versus Uncertainty of Outcome

Thomas J. Miceli
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

Since its inception, a core principle of sports economics has been the claim that fans desire balanced competition—the so-called Uncertainty of Outcome Hypothesis (UOH). While this idea has intuitive appeal, it runs counter to the equally obvious importance of partisanship in shaping fan interest in sporting contests. The absence of a well-accepted theoretical basis for the UOH, coupled with a lack of compelling empirical evidence in support of it, suggests important gaps in the literature. This paper takes a step toward addressing the former need by offering a contest utility function, based on standard Cobb-Douglas preferences, which embodies both partisanship and a demand for competitive balance. The model is used to derive a willingness-to-pay function for game tickets and an expression for aggregate attendance. Findings from the empirical literature are discussed in light of the analysis.

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