Last November I wrote about a special issue in the Journal of Sports Economics that mapped that first twenty years of the journal. During the course of this summer I was again researching the history of the subject and some of the most prominent papers in the field. It got me thinking more about the most widely cited and best known papers to date, and is the inspiration for what is below. (A warning - there may be omissions that I did not consider).
From my searching, there are a very limited number of papers in the field that have now broken the magical 1,000 citation count on Google Scholar, as of August 2022. The names of the authors will be familiar to all those working in the area.
The (top) five that I found are:
- Rottenberg, S. (1956). The Baseball Players' Labor Market. Journal of Political Economy, 64(3), 242-258.
- Neale, W. C. (1964). The Peculiar Economics of Professional Sports. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 78(1), 1-14.
- Scully, G. W. (1974). Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball. The American Economic Review, 64(6), 915-930.
- Fort, R., & Quirk, J. (1995). Cross-subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports leagues. Journal of Economic Literature, 33(3), 1265-1299.
- Szymanski, S. (2003). The Economic Design of Sporting Contests. Journal of Economic Literature, 41(4), 1137-1187.
In ascending order, both Scully (1974) and Fort and Quirk (1995) have been cited just under 1,100 to date. The second paper ever in sports economics - Neale (1964) - is then third on the list with a total of 1,353. In second place, quite an achievement for a paper written as late as 2003 is "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests" by Stefan Szymanski. First, as one would probably expect, is Simon Rottenberg's "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests". As the original paper in the field, it is often cited across the literature and is just shy of 2,000 citations to date - presently on 1,984.
It should be noted a number of very recent papers on Covid-19 are rapidly gaining citations across economics, other social science and health fields, and might in the not too distant future, join this elite group.