Course Features High-Profile Guests
The list of guest
speakers in Economics 231: The Sports Economy, a course taught
this semester by Andrew Zimbalist, reads like a Who’s
Who of professional sports.
Don Fehr, the
executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association,
dropped in on April 11. Stan Kasten, the longtime president
of Atlanta professional sports teams, baseball’s Braves,
the Hawks basketball team, and the Thrashers hockey team,
spoke on March 28. Sunil Gulati, the chief operating officer
of the New England Revolution and incoming president of US
Soccer, visited the class on March 16. On April 20, Allen
Guttmann, a professor of history at Amherst College and a
preeminent expert on the history of sports, gave a presentation.
On Tuesday, April
25, Fay Vincent, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball,
dropped by, fittingly as Zimbalist’s latest book, In
the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of
Bud Selig, was recently released (). The book—parts of which are
required reading in his course—addresses the history
of baseball and its evolution from the perspective of the
nine commissioners to have held the post since it was created
Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics, is widely recognized
as one of the foremost experts on the business of sports,
baseball in particular. Among his 15 books are Baseball
and Billions (1992), Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism
and Conflict in Big-time College Sports (1999), and May
the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy
has taught a popular seminar on sports economics for 14 years,
altered the course this year to offer it for the first time
at the 200 level, doubling the class size in the process.
His students, including six from Amherst College, come from
an array of academic disciplines.
the challenges of teaching a course like this is that students
come with very different backgrounds and expectations,”
he says. “But people in our culture go ga-ga over sports,”
especially the college-aged set, many of whom play sports
and personally connect with and follow sports teams.
The course probes
a range of issues in professional and college sports, such
as player salaries, equity in remuneration, the importance
of competitive balance, and anti-trust and drug policies.
But, Zimbalist emphasizes, it goes beyond sports in imparting
economics concepts, public policies and legal theories that
apply to industries of many types.
is the first time Zimbalist has scheduled a lineup of sports
experts for his sports economy course. Having consulted for
several professional sports groups during the past 10 years
and written numerous high-profile articles on sports business,
he has cultivated relationships with those in the industry,
such as this semester’s guest speakers.
The course will
culminate in a class trip to Boston in early May, during which
students will attend a talk by Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner,
then take in a Red Sox game.
With that finale
and its list of professional sports heavy-hitters, the Economics
231 waiting list is sure to grow.