The Hope Statistic as an Alternative Measure of Competitive Balance, pp. 170-184

Alan Kaplan
John Nadeau
Norm O’Reilly

We examine the need for and the presence of competitive balance in professional sports leagues. We argue that competitive balance helps to further fan welfare and we propose a new measure of competitive balance that hopefully better reflects the needs of fans—that is, compared with measures used both currently and in the past. More specifically, we model the hope of postseason play in a new way as a proxy for competitive balance, and, using a database from Major League Baseball, we provide descriptive statistics for our measure alongside a number of other measures currently extant in the literature. We conclude by discussing policy positions that may be derived from our findings.