Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ridiculous Item of the Day: Better Looking Male Athletes Get Better Pay

Sports economist David Berri, author of the blog “Wages of Wins” and a book by the same name, had an interesting article in the New York Times’ Play Magazine this weekend. Berri and two other economists essentially discovered that better-looking quarterbacks make more money. The idea isn’t new. For years, economists have been saying that better looking people make more money with as much as a 15 percent difference in pay between the best looking and worse looking person doing essentially the same job. Berri and his cohorts looked at all the usual factors that determine player pay and used a computer program to determine symmetry of face. Berri told me that these types of programs are used by plastic surgeons to quantify what they can do to make people more attractive – the idea being that the more symmetrical a player’s face is, the more attractive he is deemed to be. In his article, Berri mentioned Kerry Collins and Charlie Frye as having earned more because of their good looks, while Jeff George and Neil O’Donnell got paid less because they were, to put it nicely, less symmetrical. Berri told me that the impact of being good looking is small compared to overall pay. “A substantial change in symmetry only leads to about a $300,000 change in salary,” Berri said. “Performance is still the biggest factor in determining play. If you look good, but can’t play, you’re not going to get much money. But if you have two quarterbacks who are equally effective, the better looking quarterback will get a bit more pay.”


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