Via Urbanomics, a fascinating discussion on the effect superstar-athletes have on their fellow players:
Do bowlers raise their game when bowling to Sachin Tendulkar, or do they get intimidated by his ‘superstar’ reputation and “choke”? Most cricket commentators would have it that competing against Tendulkar makes everyone else step up their game and perform better. But conventional tournament and contest theory suggests that large inherent skill differences between competitors can have the perverse effect of reducing effort incentives under competition. So who is correct?
What follows is an illuminating summary of the latest research on “choking” and the “de-motivating effect.” Studies have shown, for instance, that some players work themselves into a frenzy when they’re in a pressure situation against a famous athlete (Roger Federer, or Tiger Woods). They tend to perform worse from the anxiety as a result.
Read the whole post. After reading that IMF paper on luck in cricket, I’m beginning to think economists do a much better job of explaining cricket than commentators do.