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Stumbling On Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports by Martin B. Schmidt, David J. Berri

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8. Is It the Teacher or the Students?

It’s said that coaches are hired to be fired. When a team fails to win as often as its fans and owner(s) would like, the coach is often asked to leave. And when a new coach is hired, he or she is often considered the potential savior of the team. Of course, as time goes by—and the team is again not as successful as people would like—yesterday’s savior is asked to leave and a new savior is invited to town.

The underlying assumption that supports the ever-revolving coaching carousel is that coaches are important. If a team changes its coach it can change outcomes. Bum Phillips captured this perspective in describing the coaching abilities of Don Shula: “Don Shula can take his’n and beat your’n. Or he can take ...

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