Top 8 Economics Books Every Pro Sports Lover Should Own

Awesome Gift Ideas for the Sports Loving Economist in Your Life -- or You!

The professional and collegiate sports industries, as with all facets of the entertainment industry, are big business here in the United States. In fact, sometimes it can feel as though the sports section has become indistinguishable from the financial section with its stories of million dollar compensation packages and billion dollar deals. The eight books on this top economics books list dive deeper into the fascinating world of the sports industry, explaining everything from why players get paid so much to the impact of a salary cap to why arguments for government-financed stadiums are bad economics.

Any of these books would make a great gift for the sports-lover in your life - particularly if that sports-lover is also interested in business and economics. Or perhaps one of these books had a place on your coffee table or nightstand. Either way, happy reading!

Published in 1994, this book is a bit dated but still the best published book on the subject. Author Andrew Zimbalist, an Economist at Smith College, pulls no punches when he discusses that owners have mismanaged the sport of baseball. He discusses a number of proposals, such as expanding the league to 35 or 40 teams.

Professional baseball players have always been well paid, but today on average players earn on average more than fifty times the average worker's salary. Why are baseball players paid so much? This book provides a very nuts and bolts treatment of the issue. Written by Roger I. Abrams, who is both Dean of Law at Northeastern University and a baseball salary arbitrator, takes some sophisticated theories surrounding this topic and breaks them down for any sports-lover.

As with the first book on this list, it is a bit dated having been published in 1995, but it continues to prove itself as a great resource. It definitely belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the subject. Author Gerald Scully examines the factors that determine both player salaries and franchise values. A great read for those interested in economics and the business of sports management alike.

This is by far the book to read on the issue of the economic impact of public subsidies for sports stadiums. Economists Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist (also the author of the first book on our list) show how these subsidies are almost always losing propositions for the governments involved. This book is nothing if not a wealth of facts, figures, and economic reasoning. If you're doing a term paper on the subject, start here.

The full title of this book is: "Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit." It's quite obvious which side of the argument Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause are on when it comes to government-funded stadiums and the like. The two authors are sports fans, not economists, so their arguments are less technical and much more accessible than the others on this list, making it highly recommended for economics beginners.

06
of 08

Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It

Baseball player hitting ball with bat with umpire and catcher
Baseball player hitting ball with bat with umpire and catcher. Getty Images/Jim Cummins/The Image Bank

Though it is one of the longer books on our list, it still makes for a worthwhile read. This book is entertaining but also informative. It is such an authority on the subject that it has been used as a textbook in some sports economics courses. Rosentraub argues that sports leagues keep the number of teams in the league artificially low, which gives them an artificially high amount of bargaining power when lobbying for a new stadium.

07
of 08

Hard Ball: The Abuse of Power in Pro Team Sports

Football player celebrating touchdown with fans on stand
Football player celebrating touchdown with fans on stand. Getty Image/Tony Garcia/The Image Bank

Authors James Quirk and Stephen Ross show how the rising salaries and rising franchise values in professional sports have come at the expense of the fan and of the taxpayer. They argue that sports leagues are monopolies that should be broken up by the Justice Department. The views put forth in the book are far more radical than the other ones on the list, but are still very compelling.

The eight and final book on our list is yet another good overview of the business of sports. This book combines the business acumen of Ernst & Young with the insider knowledge of renowned sports writer, Skip Rozin. It is a highly recommended read for beginners in the study of economics. If you're already quite familiar with the subject, there likely won't be much here for you. As an introduction to the subject, however, it's one of the best.