The Wages of Wins
Taking Measures of the Many Myths in Modern Sport
David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt & Stacey L. Brooks
Stanford Business Books
$29.95 ($19.95 paperback) ($34.95/$23.50 Canada)
Numbers don’t lie. So when the authors of The Wages of Wins write that Dean Garrett was the most productive NBA rookie in 1996/97, and not Allen Iverson, they have the numbers to back it up. Same thing when they state that you can’t buy a championship in any sport, that NFL quarterbacks are like mutual funds or that Shaq was more productive than Kobe before the Lakers shipped Diesel to Miami.
It is one thing when an obnoxious fan or sports talk show blowhard spouts off about who is the best player or why a certain team doesn’t win games. It is quite another thing when three economics professors, which the authors of this book are, who love sports give you proof to back up their arguments. Not many casual basketball fans would agree that Allen Iverson isn’t a very productive player, but the authors have the data to show otherwise. It is hard to argue when the cold hard facts are in front of your face.
Readers of CHN will be delighted to know that an extensive part of the book deals with the NBA. While stats analysis and baseball go hand-in-hand, there isn’t enough of this type of mainstream study in the field of basketball. This book fills that need. Baseball and football, and to a lesser extent hockey, also get the stats makeover.
A word of caution to the readers out there that considers comic books heavy reading – this book does contain numbers and economic teachings. While it is still quite entertaining, there are sections where some basic understanding of numbers and economics do help (especially the couple of parts where there is a typo and the wrong number is written). However, the authors go easy on the tough number crunching and leave the real heavy lifting to the endnotes (which there are lots of, which causes the reader to do a lot of page flipping back-and-forth).
The Wages of Wins is a very important book in the field of sports economics and a very enjoyable and thought provoking read. It leaves you wanting a sequel to it (which, luckily, the writers hint at).
4 out of 5 stars