Monday, May 17, 2010

Suspended from Track? Just Play Pro Basketball

Marion Jones, the famous U.S. track star who is serving a 2-year suspension from the sport, has played her first game for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock (USA Today).

I was going to write a borderline sexist comment about how women's sports lack competition, as evidenced by Jones' ability to take up basketball at the highest level at the age of 34. But we have to remember the various two-sports male stars. Bo Jackson was a No. 1 overall NFL pick and a second-round MLB pick, and he was selected to all-star squads in both sports. Deion Sanders played in both a World Series and a Super Bowl. And the list goes on.

I've been reading about the Noll-Scully measure for league competitiveness in "The Wages of Wins." Essentially, the statistic measures how far actual league standings deviate from what the standings would be if the league were perfectly balanced. Noll-Scully shows that the NBA is the least competitive league among mainstream American sports, and the authors speculate that this is because of the scarcity of talented tall people among the general population. I was wondering if the WNBA was even worse, given the relative lack of athletic interest among women. However, a study by an Atlanta Dream blogger reveals that the WNBA is actually more competitive than the NBA.