Race and NFL Playing Time

Quinn A. W. Keefer

Using binary variable and decomposition techniques on two distinct datasets, we analyze the effect of race on playing time for linebackers in the National Football League (NFL). We examine both the number of games started in a season and the probability of starting each individual game within a season. The results show black linebackers start approximately one additional game, or 16% more games, in a season than non-black players. Also, the probability of starting a specific game is four to eight percentage points greater for black linebackers. Previous research suggests black linebackers are subject to wage discrimination. Therefore, if omitted variables are responsible for the effect of race on playing time, there is actually more wage discrimination than reported.