Dr. David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, the NCAA, and gender issues in sports.
Dr. Berri was the lead author of "The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins" and recently published "Sports Economics", a textbook from Macmillan Publishers. In the past, he has written on the subject of sports economics for a number of popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the Atlantic.com, Time.com, and Vice Sports. Currently, Dr. Berri is writing for Forbes.com.
Dr. Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a bachelor of arts in economics and earned both his master of arts and Ph.D. in economics from Colorado State University.
Industry Expertise (5)
Areas of Expertise (7)
Outstanding Scholar (professional)
Southern Utah University Board of Trustees, 2013
Scholar of the Year, Department of Economics & Finance (professional)
Southern Utah University, 2009
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (professional)
Colorado State University, 1996
Colorado State University: Ph.D., Economics
Colorado State University: M.A., Economics
Nebraska Wesleyan University: B.A., Economics
Media Appearances (17)
Is Overspending Catching Up to These Power 5 Schools?
USA Today online
The general strategy is that “more spending leads to more wins,” said David Berri, a sports economist and professor at Southern Utah. “No, it’s probably the other way around: If you win more, you’ll have more revenue and can spend more money. That’s why we end up with this.”
With NBA Picks, Data Can Only Take You So Far
The NBA draft takes place tomorrow in Brooklyn, when teams make big bets on young players, hoping they might been the next LeBron James or Steph Curry, that once-in-a-generation player who can transform a team's fortunes. But these players are notoriously risky investments.
Why N.H.L. Teams May Not Enjoy the Comforts of Home Ice
The New York Times print
One way analysts have studied randomness in hockey is by watching the performance of goalies.
“In a regular season, your worst goalie is going to block about 86 percent of shots and your best goalie is going to block about 93 percent, and that’s the whole spread,” David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University, said. “It’s basically every goalie blocks nine out of 10 shots.”
Before this Hoops Recruit Chose Indiana, Adidas Made Sure He Stayed Under its Tent
The Washington Post online
“Even if you’re conservative in your math,” said David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University, “a player like this is worth well over a million.”
Who Will Cleveland Browns Pick in First Round of 2018 NFL Draft?
Bloomberg TV tv
Southern Utah University Professor of Economics David Berri discusses the potential first round selections for the NFL's 2018 draft. He speaks with Bloomberg's Vonnie Quinn on "Bloomberg Markets."
Commission on College Basketball Calls for Reforms on One-and-Dones, Undrafted Players
LA Times online
With college basketball reeling from scandal, an independent NCAA task force has called for widespread reform of a game that has become a multibillion-dollar business fraught with bribery and fraud.
Should Female Athletes Sue the Networks for Equal Coverage?
The Guardian online
Women are conditioned to accept what’s given to them and women athletes are no exception. It’s time for a change.
NCAA Tournament Rakes in Millions on Efforts of Unpaid Athletes, But What's the Solution?
LA Times online
When sports economists compare these numbers to the value of scholarships that athletes receive, they see a trigger for the corruption scandal enveloping the game.
"If we think about the word 'exploitation,' it has a specific definition," Southern Utah professor David Berri said. "'Exploitation' means you're being paid a wage less than your economic value … any restriction below market prices is going to lead to cheating."
How LeBron James Says He'd Fix the "Corrupt" NCAA
Washington Post online
The NCAA is “corrupt,” LeBron James said Tuesday, echoing a sentiment that’s seemingly growing louder as more coaches are implicated in an FBI pay-for-play scandal.
Is the FBI Cleaning Up College Basketball, or Wasting its Time?
Washington Post online
Five months later, with the NCAA’s premier event and moneymaker — the men’s basketball tournament — about to tip-off, the sport remains in turmoil. The FBI probe continues, threatening to tarnish legacies, end careers and send coaches and shoe company officials to prison.
The NBA's Most Overpaid Players 2018
Our analysis uses a statistic called Wins Produced, which was created by my co-author, David Berri, and is calculated by BoxscoreGeeks.com. It resembles other metrics (like Win Shares) that attempt to measure how much credit a player should get for producing a win, and it similarly weights various statistical inputs (like points and turnovers) to come up with a single wins estimate.
Shohei Ohtani Might Be the Most Underpaid Man in the World
The Atlantic online
Ohtani’s massively deflated contract is an especially extreme example of this trend. Under the CBA, any international player who enters the majors or minors under age 25 gets the same basic deal, as do American players who enter through the draft. Ironically, says David Berri, a sports economist at Southern Utah University, the initial goal of that standardized contract was to spark bidding wars and increase the salaries of star players.
Doug Robinson: NBA still values the wrong numbers
Deseret News online
To understand the reason for this requires a deeper look into the statistics, which is what David Berri does for a living. He’s an economics professor at Southern Utah University who has written two books on the subject — “Wages of Wins” and “Stumbling on Wins” — and writes a regular column for Forbes. Berri does in real life what the Jonah Hill character did in the “Money Ball” movie.
According to Berri, to evaluate a player properly you first have to understand what he considers to be the three things that determine wins: 1) taking the ball from your opponents so they can’t score (via turnovers and defensive rebounds);2) keeping the ball away from your opponents (offensive rebounds, don’t commit turnovers); and 3) scoring efficiency (not total points, but shooting percentage).
For the WNBA, Business Isn’t as Bad as it Looks
The Washington Post online
More than a decade later, the league’s financial future has started to stabilize, and its fan base is the size of any fledgling professional sports league 20-some years old, said David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University who studies gender and sports economics.
How the WNBA is underpaying its players
Minnesota Public Radio online
The WNBA playoff finals open on Sunday with the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks renewing their playoff rivalry. The Lynx are slight favorites.
The $325 Million Question: Why is the MLB is Flooded with Huge Contracts?
Fox 40 online
If you had to guess which athlete in the world is signed to the biggest contract by his team, names like Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and Tom Brady would likely to come to mind. But none of the above can boast the 13-year, $325 million deal of Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
In a cap-free NFL, Tom Brady could probably double his salary
The Washington Post online
“That’s a tough one,” said David Berri, an economics professor at Southern Utah University. “In those other sports, you can separate the player from the teammates. I can tell you what Mike Trout is worth. I can tell you what LeBron James is worth. The problem with Tom Brady is, he doesn’t do anything by himself.”
The match between Team USA and Team Canada for the Olympic women's hockey gold medal garnered the highest ratings of any late-night show in NBCSN's history. Since their thrilling win, members of Team USA have done a television victory tour, with appearances on the Today show, Ellen Degeneres' show and Saturday Night Live.
One of the highlights of the Winter Olympics for the United States was the gold medal victory in women's hockey. The deciding game between Team USA and Team Canada was one of the most watched game in late night show in NBCSN history. And after the game, members of this team have been guests on numerous television shows and subjects of a number of articles.
A few months ago, I argued there is a significant gender-wage gap in professional basketball. While the NBA gives 50% of its revenue to its players, it appears the WNBA pays out only about 20% of its revenue.
So it appears there is much to like about the progress women have made in sports. But not everyone is happy. Some have argued that the gains women have made have come at the expense of men. Specifically — as Katie Lee reported — people have argued that schools have been forced to cut men’s sports to make women’s sports possible.
On Sunday, the Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers for their ninth win, leaving them just shy of the playoffs but ensuring they finished the season with a winning record. In addition, the victory was the 36th in the four-year tenure of head coach Jim Caldwell, lifting his winning percentage with the Lions (0.562) above the 0.558 mark of Joe Schmidt, who coached the team from 1967 to 1972, and giving him a win-loss record better than that of every head coach in Detroit since Buddy Parker left the team in 1956 (i.e., across the last 60 years!).
Despite this record, though, Detroit fired Caldwell on Monday.
Once upon a time, opportunities for women to play team sports were scarce. Not only were women not encouraged to play, women were actively discouraged. But according to R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, as of 2014 more than 3.2 million girls (41.2% of all athletes) played high school sports while more than 200,000 women played college sports.
If I asked you to think about an athlete, who would you first picture? A man? A woman? A horse or a dog?
What we think about sports is at least partially shaped by the media that covers sports. Once upon a time, sports fans got their news primarily from a newspaper delivered to their house or bought at a newsstand. Today, sports news is primarily found online.
Ask a coach why a team won or lost, and you will soon discover a reluctance to credit or blame any one individual. Coaches love to tell people that success and failure is about the team.
Numbers, though, aren't quite so diplomatic. One very cool feature of basketball — at least for me — is that you can translate the box score statistics tracked for each player into one number that tells us how many wins each player produces. (This process is explained both online and in my textbook Sport Economics.) This means we can say one player is worth more wins than another.
The story of this misunderstanding begins in the 20th century. R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter report that in 1971 there were 3.7 million boys playing high school sports in the United States. In contrast, that same year – again, according to Acosta and Carpenter – less than 300,000 girls played high school sports. In sum, in 1971 it was common for boys to play sports and relatively uncommon for girls to do the same. Given these numbers, it is possible that someone in 1971 might think that most girls simply didn’t like sports. Now we know, though, that story was incorrect in 1971 (and is clearly incorrect today).
WNBA players are not being treated the same as their counterparts in the NBA. The NBA pays its players about 50% of league revenue. It appears, when we look at what we know about WNBA revenue and salaries, that the league's players are receiving less than 25% of the revenue.
More than 100 million Americans will likely spend Sunday night watching the Super Bowl. Although it is not quite the same as a FIFA World Cup Final – which had one billion viewers worldwide in 2014 – the Super Bowl is still a big deal in the United States and around the world.
Why Connecticut's dominance isn't such a bad thing can be understood by considering both the history of sports and some basic sports economics. Let's start with some familiar stories from sports history.
ECON 1740 US Economic History
Satisfies American government requirement of general education. History from colonial times to present. Coverage of U.S. Constitution; national economy; pluralism; ethnicity, race, gender; distribution of wealth and power; social conflict and reform; entrepreneurs, workers, workplace; cultural encounters; popular culture; U.S. and global affairs.
ECON 2020 Principles of Macroeconomics
Introduces measurements of national economic performances: GDP, and interest, inflation and unemployment rates. Develops a model to describe the economic situation, and to present the options available to policy makers. Discusses the institutions and constraints that frame policy. International economic issues and the relation of the U.S. economy to the global economy are then examined.
ECON 4900 Special Topics
Topics in specialized fields of economics and advanced quantitative methods, varying by semester.