What We Are Reading Today: Playbooks and Checkbooks by Stefan Szymanski

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Updated 28 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Playbooks and Checkbooks by Stefan Szymanski

What economic rules govern sports? How does the sports business differ from other businesses? Playbooks and Checkbooks takes a fascinating step-by-step look at the fundamental economic relationships shaping modern sports. 

Focusing on the ways that the sports business does and does not overlap with economics, the book uncovers the core paradox at the heart of the sports industry. Unlike other businesses, the sports industry would not survive if competitors obliterated each other to extinction, financially or otherwise — without rivals there is nothing to sell. Playbooks and Checkbooks examines how this unique economic truth plays out in the sports world, both on and off the field.

Noted economist Stefan Szymanski explains how modern sporting contests have evolved; how sports competitions are organized; and how economics has guided antitrust, monopoly, and cartel issues in the sporting world. Szymanski considers the motivation provided by prize money, uncovers discrepancies in players’ salaries.


What We Are Reading Today: First Things by Hadley Arkes

Updated 03 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: First Things by Hadley Arkes

This book restores to us an understanding that was once settled in the “moral sciences:” That there are propositions, in morals and law, which are not only true but which cannot be otherwise. 

It was understood in the past that, in morals or in mathematics, our knowledge begins with certain axioms that must hold true of necessity; that the principles drawn from these axioms hold true universally, unaffected by variations in local “cultures;” and that the presence of these axioms makes it possible to have, in the domain of morals, some right answers. Hadley Arkes restates the grounds of that older understanding and unfolds its implications for the most vexing political problems of our day.

The author turns first to the classic debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. After establishing the groundwork and properties of moral propositions, he traces their application in such issues as selective conscientious objection, justifications for war, the war in Vietnam, a nation’s obligation to intervene abroad, the notion of supererogatory acts, the claims of “privacy,” and the problem of abortion.