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Burdekin et al. / NBA FANS INDIFFERENT TO RACE?

147

Percentage of Players Who Are White

35%

30%

25%

20%

15%

10%

5%

0%

Bench Starters Team

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Figure 1:

Average Racial Composition of NBA Teams Over Time

NOTE: A regression of percent of team that is White (TWHITE) on a time trend generates a negative coefficient (t statistic of 2.80, significant at the .01 level). A corresponding regression of percentage of bench that is White (BWHITE) on time generates a negative coefficient (t statistic of 3.30, significant at the .01 level). The coefficient in the regression of percentage of starters, however, who are White (SWHITE) on time is not statistically different from zero (t statistic of 0.36).

found that Whites were paid more than Blacks for the same level of performance (see Kahn, 2000).4 Although most of the salary-based studies focus on aggregate measures of performance and salaries, a few consider how the fan base in a metro area may differentially affect salaries. For example, Bodvarsson and Partridge (2001) found that Black players in two seasons (1985-1986 and 1990-1991) were paid more in areas where the Black population was higher. They argued that this finding may reflect “black fans wanting to see a team with a greater percentage of blacks” (Bodvarsson & Partridge, 2001, p. 413). Although no such population effect was significant in their regressions of White player salary levels, the possibil- ity that Black-White salary levels may vary with the racial composition of the mar- ket area is consistent with the customer-discrimination hypothesis. Even if average performance-adjusted salary levels of Whites and Blacks are equal, so that there is no aggregate discrimination, this does not preclude team-specific, or market area–specific, differences in the relative salaries of Whites and Blacks.5

DETERMININANTS OF THE RACIAL COMPOSITION OF NBA TEAMS

A match between the racial composition of an NBA team and the racial compo- sition of its metropolitan market suggests that teams are responding to customer

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