Field Position and Strategy in American Football

Kevin G. Quinn

in The Oxford Handbook of Sports Economics

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195387773
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Field Position and Strategy in American Football

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This chapter uses economics in the sense of decision making under scarcity and uncertainty to examine several aspects of American football. It then explores the field position and strategy, and describes how it is possible to put a statistical value, say, in terms of expected points, on field position, on the choice of whether to run or pass, and on what to do on fourth down. In addition, the chapter addresses the previous research and results based on the 2007 National Football League season. The search for competitive advantage provides strong incentive for coaches and teams to keep their strategy research secret. Fourth down strategy decisions suggest that endowment effects, anchoring effects, and even denomination effects could cause cognitive biases in decision making. The suboptimality findings challenge the pure win maximization models that are favored in most of the North American sports economics literature.

Keywords: National Football League; field position; decision making; fourth down strategy; coaches; teams; sports economics

Article.  10410 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Industry Studies ; Economic History

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