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Stacking, Performance Differentials, and Salary Discrimination in Professional Ice Hockey: A Survey of the Evidence

Marc Lavoie

French Canadians in professional ice hockey perform generally better than English Canadian or American players. This is particularly clear at the position of defenseman. Stacking in the National Hockey League (NHL) is also observed, with very few French Canadians playing defense. Four theses are presented to explain these two phenomena. The first three theses—based on differences in the style of play, the cultural costs of moving to an NHL city, and the proficiency of the language of work (English)—all incorporate convincing arguments but fail to predict further established facts. Hiring discrimination best explains all of the facts that have been gathered by students of ice hockey. Except in the case of defensemen, little or no salary discrimination against Francophones could be identified, although their pay is determined differently. The collection of a wide variety of data suggests that favoritism by scouts substantially affects the outcome of hiring decisions, especially at the positions for which assessment is highly uncertain and subjective, that is, the position of defense.

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The “Economic” Hypothesis of Positional Segregation: Some Further Comments

Marc Lavoie

It is shown that the Medoff economic hypothesis of stacking, based on free choice induced by income differentials and training cost differentials, cannot generate unambiguous predictions. Latin American players in baseball are given as a counterexample. Means to ascertain the training costs relative to each position are suggested, as well as means to predict the evolution of positional segregation in baseball through time, using the uncertainty thesis of discrimination put forth by Blalock and previously applied to ice hockey.

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Salaries, Race/Ethnicity, and Pitchers in Major League Baseball: A Correction and Comment

Marc Lavoie and Wilbert M. Leonard II

The distinction between starting and relief pitchers is crucial for a correct assessment of pay determination. Nevertheless, making this distinction does not alter the trend of empirical findings, namely that there is no salary discrimination against blacks in baseball.

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In Search of an Alternative Explanation of Stacking in Baseball: The Uncertainty Hypothesis

Marc Lavoie and Wilbert M. Leonard II

The stacking of blacks in noncentral positions is a time-consistent feature of professional baseball. It is shown that differential batting and slugging averages between positions are also a structural feature. The structure of stacking as well as its evolution are well explained by the uncertainty thesis, that is, the belief that discrimination and differential barriers to entry are linked to the difficulty and lack of objectivity in assessing player performance at a given position. However, because the uncertainty thesis fails to predict the expected performance differentials between black and white players, auxiliary hypotheses have to be entertained. It is concluded that a combination of the uncertainty thesis and the well-known centrality hypothesis may best explain what occurs in baseball.