Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Large population + high GDP per capita = lots of sports success!

The Sports Economist blog had a post a couple of days ago about the massive domination of the Gold Cup soccer championship over the last 15 years or so by the Americans.  But, actually, the real purpose of the post is to highlight the empirically established relationship between wealth and population of a given country and its success in sports in general.  Not surprisingly, the data show that countries with large populations and per capita GDPs, such as the US, are likely to be very successful with their sports teams.  Why?
There is a fairly lengthy scholarly literature on the relationship between sports success and economics. Whether one looks at medal count in the Olympics or FIFA rankings for either men’s or women’s soccer, there is a strong correlation between population, GDP, and GDP per capita and sports success. A large population gives a country a large pool of potential athletes from which to draw, and a high GDP or GDP/person gives the country the resources required to adequately train its athletes.
Personally, I didn't find any of the conclusions or observations in the post to be surprising, but it's an interesting article nonetheless.  And the folks at the TSE don't post very often, and I try to support them if I can.  So check out the article!