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Sports Economics
Virginia Tech

Welcome to the Course!

The start of the semester is coming up soon, but I wanted to let you know a few things about the course before we officially begin. My hope is that you're aware of the course expectations before we begin so that you're more comfortable when classes start.


Our Canvas course will include an onboarding module that provides more specific details about assignment grading and course policies. If you ever have questions about course material, please stop by during office hours once the semester begins. I'll unlock our Canvas course and post an announcement when everything is ready.

Econ 4984
Course Site

10 things you should know before the semester begins:

  1. I'll spend the first half of the first day highlighting some of the important components of the course, but we'll largely jump into the material on the very first day of class. For each lesson, I will try to post handouts on Canvas, which you should download before class to take notes. I also recommend purchasing some colored pens or markers (I like these). Just reading the slides will not ensure you have all the material we cover inside and outside of class.

  2. This course will be taught completely in person, and an online/Zoom option will not be available this semester. A portion of your final grade is based on attending class and actively participating during class. We'll use the iClicker Cloud program to answer polling questions throughout the semester. This program is slightly different from the old iClicker remotes which won't work for our course. You can participate with your laptop or with an app on your phone, but you don't need to sign up for iClicker Cloud until our course officially opens on Canvas.

  3. Instead of a traditional textbook for the course, I have selected two "popular press" books instead. These books are written for a general audience but are based on sports economics research. You will be quizzed over chapters from these books each week and also asked to discuss topics from these books using discussion boards. You are expected to have your own (physical or digital) copies of Scorecasting and Soccernomics, which you can get on Amazon much cheaper than the bookstore.  Each book costs about $20 if you want a new paperback copy. I recommend purchasing these books before the semester starts. 

  4. I have very high expectations for students in all of my courses, which is good to know before the semester starts. This course will likely be very different from other economics course offerings and will feature a significant amount of reading, writing, and discussion throughout the semester. The books listed above are the basis for about 50% of your overall grade in the course, so it's important to take these seriously. On average, you are can expect around 6-7 hours of work outside of our lecture each week.

  5. Your weekly quizzes will be completed on Canvas, but you'll complete your discussion board assignments using Packback. I'll talk more about Packback and how the assignments are graded when the semester begins. When the course opens, I recommend purchasing your subscription directly from Packback because it will be cheaper than other access codes you may find at the bookstore. If you're using Packback in other courses (or you used it in previous classes), Packback will give you a discount on our class. You don't need to sign up for Packback until our course is officially open on Canvas.

  6. Your major assignments in the course are worth only 40% of your overall grade in the course. These include 2 exams and a course project on the Moneyball concept. The project will ask you to collect data, create visualizations, and analyze those results. I do not assume you have any prior knowledge of baseball or statistics, but some general knowledge will help. The course grading policy will be designed so that your best 2 of the 3 scores will count toward your final grade.

  7. This course requires you complete weekly summaries of readings and lectures, weekly discussion boards, and a major written project. About half of your grade in the course is based on writing, not on calculations. If you would like to improve your writing skills, I think you would benefit from Deirdre McCloskey's book, Economical Writing. It provides concise tips about writing that you may find helpful. At 112 pages, most of you should be able to read it fairly quickly. While geared toward writing in economics, some of the lessons can be applied to writing in other business-centric fields. This book is not required, but previous students have told me they found it helpful.

  8. We will use a number of platforms during the course, but you should consider our Canvas course as the "hub" for all of the other sites. This website is meant to give you an early look at the semester ahead. Each week I will post an announcement in Canvas highlighting important information for the week ahead. I may also email you directly about various topics as the semester progresses. If you don’t want to use your VT email address, you can set up email forwarding so that you get all emails and announcements from me in your preferred inbox. When you set up your online accounts (iClicker/Packback), you should still enter your VT email address. I recommend updating your Canvas preferences before the term starts so that you receive daily digests from your courses rather than individual emails each time something changes in your courses. 

  9. Taking a course with a heavy emphasis on technology (Microsoft Office, Canvas, iClicker, Packback) increases the possibility that you may experience some technical difficulties over the course of an entire semester. If the resources in the classroom (or your own personal equipment) aren't functioning that day, you are still responsible for all of the material covered that day. Given the structure of the course, there are no extensions or makeup assignments this semester. Because there are so many regular assignments throughout the semester, I recommend getting into the habit of using a planner instead of relying on the Canvas to-do list.

  10. Lastly, I'm very passionate about economics education. I occasionally tweet economics stuff that you may find interesting or post interesting class-related things on Instagram. I've recently written a book on learning economics from Parks and Recreation and I write a weekly newsletter on economics in current events. You're not obligated to follow any of these accounts, but you're welcome to interact with me as much or as little as you're comfortable. 

    I am really looking forward to this semester and I hope you enjoy your next few months with me.

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