Economic frameworks are built around the idea that people respond to incentives and government policies are often designed around them. Incentives can be observed anywhere in the world of sport but seen as it’s RBS Six Nations time again I thought I’d write something on what I think is a rather clever incentive in the competition which was recently discussed by Irish Examiner writer Peter Jackson. The incentive is the bonus prize money awarded to the team which wins the Grand Slam.
For those not familiar with the competition, the Grand Slam is when one nation manages to win all of their matches in the Six Nations. It’s a difficult task to accomplish but for the team that can pull it off it’s worth an additional €1.15 million to their prize money. This is obviously a great incentive for teams to try and remain unbeaten on the final day of the competition even if they have managed to win the Championship before the final whistle, but there is another key factor in this incentive structure which makes it great.
The Grand Slam prize money is taken from the other 5 nations in the competition, so teams like Italy who could be in last position with no hope of doing better on the final day of the Championship still have an incentive to try and beat a team that is going for the Grand Slam because it will save them €230,000.
Due to the structure of league formatted competitions, it can often be the case that top performing teams which are secure in their position often see no need to field fully strengthened teams and risk injuries to their players; it can also be the case that low performing teams who cannot escape their poor points tally regardless of their last few performances in a league also don’t play with as much desire to win. Consequentially this leads to less exciting games for fans to watch towards the end of league competitions if the winners and losers of the overall competition are known before the final few games of the league. The RBS Six Nation however, has found an interesting way to keep teams motivated to beat each other.