Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Preseason Rankings

Wrestling season is beginning in the NCAA. As with all NCAA sports, there are preseason rankings quantifying who is going to do what. Today’s KC Star had this article on the now-mighty Missouri Tiger grapplers, ranked 10th in the nation this year after receiving their best ranking at the end of any season last year – 13th. A quote from head coach Brian Smith:

“I don't think that we are a top-10 team right now. A lot of kids have never been in the lineup. Rankings are silly with a lot of unknowns…”

I don’t think preseason rankings are silly at all, but the importance attached to them certainly could be silly. I fully understand why a coach of a team ranked in the preseason might cringe. The kids start to believe their own ranking, start thinking that they can just show up and beat “lesser” teams, and before they know it, the season is lost. Does Missouri vs. Troy University ring a bell? Never underestimate the power of momentum in sports outcomes.

There are a lot of interesting things that can be learned from studying collegiate sports rankings. One interesting study would be to examine how the rankings in a collegiate sport change over the course of the season. Here is one question that could be answered: how long does it take for the previous year’s performance (and a team’s tradition) to become inconsequential in determining the current year’s ranking?