Isenberg Researcher's Study Points to Negative Outcomes for NHL Teams with Olympic Participants
February 25, 2014
With the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in the rearview mirror, a 2012 statistical study by Professor Neil Longleyof Isenberg's Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management is prompting observers to ask whether the teams of NHL players who participated in the Games will suffer a letdown during the rest of the NHL season. The subject of a New York Times article on February 24 and originally published in The International Journal of Sport Finance, Longley's study found that clubs that sent many players to the Olympics in 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010 suffered a bigger decline in performance than clubs that sent few players.
The study, which surveyed every NHL team during those Olympic years, employed as its principal measure each team's differential in goals per game after the Olympics versus before it. Longley found that each NHL Olympic player correlated with a 0.088 post-Games goal-differential drop for his club. Goal differential, notes Longley, is the best measure of a team's performance because of its strong correlation with a team's record.
In the Times article, Longley was careful to avoid assigning a specific cause to account for the correlation:
"It could be physical fatigue; it could be emotional fatigue - we can't really answer that question," Longley told the Times. "There could be an energizing effect to being at the Olympics. But the numbers show that the more Olympians an NHL team supplies, the greater its post-Olympic drop-off relative to its pre-Olympic performance."
Whatever the causal link, the hockey world will be on the lookout to see whether the correlation holds this spring--especially considering growing misgivings about participation by NHL players in future Winter Olympic Games. Read the New York Times article.