Category Archives: sports economics

Why Americans suck at soccer (well, the men)


Soccer teams are expensive

An under-15 boys squad beat U.S. women’s soccer team by much more than 5-2

Most 15-year-old boys have the makings of a young gentleman. If they do not, their mum is watching them and will reach out from home to clip them round the ears if they behave badly towards the women they are playing against.

So social and family pressures would inhibit their play of this under 15 boys team with the US National women’s soccer team. Did they foul the women’s team, did the boys trip adult women and otherwise play rough or was the 5 to 2 loss just the friendliest of friendlies?

If any of the boys got into a fight with one of the female soccer players, their mothers would ground them for a month. A gentleman never hits a lady; no mother wants her teenage son to pick up bad habits. Their fathers too would-be waiting for them at the front door back home to deal out some repercussions for hitting a lady. There could also be uncles to help man the reception committee.

The US women’s soccer team is demanding pay equity with the men’s team, yet they cannot even beat a boy’s soccer team. How does comparable worth work this one out? US women’s soccer did have a one-year contract with a television network but is currently on a pay to view YouTube channel.

This does not matter much because what matters to the pay of elite athletes is TV ratings. Can they put on an exciting show with an uncertain outcome between relatively well-matched players or teams? One-sided games are boring.

The reason men and women play sports separately is when they do so they can have exciting well-matched games with uncertain outcomes that both they enjoyed playing and others enjoyed watching.

This is before we discuss the endorsements market where millions can be made. Top tennis players endorse products that men and women want to wear. Women would certainly have an endorsement advantage in many of the tennis products as an example sold to women.

Men are 10% faster in athletics

Across all sports, men are 10% faster or stronger than women. This is strong enough that a good boys high school athletics team can be stronger in the world’s best women athletes. The New Zealand women’s soccer team played an Australian high school soccer team and lost 7-2 as I recall.

From and

One way to determine whether there is a lot of drugs in sport is to see whether women are catching up with men in world records. Prior to 1992, men were slowly losing their edge over women.

But when better drug testing technology became available, women’s world records of 1992 stood for years rather than sometimes hours or months.

More importantly, the best female performances were showing a bigger gap with the best male performances after 1992. The collapse of communism meant that bags of drugs were no longer given to East European female competitors.

The reason the gap was closing before 1992 was drugs that male women stronger show up predominately in power sports such as athletics and weightlifting. When it was possible to test for those drugs, athletes stopped taking them.