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Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports

An official journal of the American Statistical Association

Editor-in-Chief: Glickman, PhD, Mark

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Game importance as a dimension of uncertainty of outcome

Xinrong Lei
  • Corresponding author
  • Child and Family Research Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1010 W. Nevada, Suite 2080, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
  • Email:
/ Brad R. Humphreys
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Economics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 0T3 Canada
  • Email:
Published Online: 2013-03-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jqas-2012-0019


Sports teams have incentives to put more effort into games with an immediate effect on standings compared to games that do not, possibly affecting outcome uncertainty. We develop a measure of game outcome uncertainty, game importance (GI), that captures how each game affects a team’s standing and can be calculated for individual games. Results show that observed variation in GI explains observed variation in attendance, game outcomes, and margin of victory at MLB games over the 1994 through 2010 seasons, suggesting that GI is an influential indicator in fans’ attendance decisions, consistent with the uncertainty of outcome hypothesis.

Keywords: game attendance; game importance, game outcome; major league baseball; uncertainty of outcome


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About the article

Corresponding authors: Xinrong Lei, Child and Family Research Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1010 W. Nevada, Suite 2080, Urbana, IL 61801, USA; and Brad R. Humphreys: Department of Economics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 0T3 Canada

Published Online: 2013-03-30

Citation Information: Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, ISSN (Online) 1559-0410, ISSN (Print) 2194-6388, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jqas-2012-0019. Export Citation

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