Does Losing Lead to Winning? An Empirical Analysis for Four Different Sports

Abstract

Berger and Pope (2011) show that being slightly behind increases the likelihood of winning in professional and collegiate basketball. We extend their analysis to large samples of Australian football, American football and rugby matches, but find little to no evidence of such an effect for these three sports. When we revisit the phenomenon for basketball, we do find supportive evidence for National Basketball Association (NBA) matches from the period analyzed in Berger and Pope. However, we find no significant effect for NBA matches from outside this sample period, for collegiate matches, and for matches from the Women’s NBA. High-powered meta-analyses across the different sports and competitions do not reject the null hypothesis of no effect of being slightly behind on winning.