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Designing Fair Tiebreak Mechanisms for Sequential Team Contests

Nejat Anbarci (), Ching-jen Sun and Utku Unver ()

No 871, Boston College Working Papers in Economics from Boston College Department of Economics

Abstract: Economists have long recognized that the effect of the order of actions in sequential contests on performance of the contestants is far from negligible. We model the tiebreak mechanisms, known as penalty shootouts, which have sequential move order and are used in several team- sports contests, as a dynamic mechanism-design problem with a fairness desideratum in mind. In most sports, such as soccer and hockey, the order in which teams take the penalties is fixed, known as ABAB. We first show that even with two balanced teams, this mechanism possesses many symmetric Markov-perfect equilibria giving various asymmetric winning probabilities to the first- and second-moving teams (but favoring the first mover under appropriate refinements) – an observation which also obtained some empirical support for soccer. Following that, we characterize all sequentially fair mechanisms in which two balanced teams have equal chances to win the shootout whenever the score is tied after equal numbers of attempts. Using additional desirable properties, we uniquely characterize practical mechanisms for easy and difficult shootouts, in which the success probability of a penalty kick is uniformly greater than 50% or less than 50%, as in soccer and hockey, respectively.

Keywords: Fairness; mechanism design; soccer; penalty shootouts; market design; axiomatic approach (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D63 C79 D47 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-spo
Date: 2015-01-15, Revised 2018-02-15
Note: previously circulated as "Designing Fair Tiebreak Mechanisms: The Case of FIFA Penalty Shootouts"
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