The uncertainty-of-outcome hypothesis and the industrial organization of sports leagues: Evidence from US college football

E Woodrow Eckard
Journal of Sports Economics,Vol. 18, Issue 3, Pages: 298-317.
The uncertainty-of-outcome hypothesis (UOH) posits that sports fans value competitive contests, implying that competitive imbalance within a league will motivate stronger teams to leave. Testable hypotheses can be formulated utilizing the many college football conference realignments over the last century. The results support the UOH. For example, schools leaving an existing conference to form a new major conference, or join a preexisting one, were on average stronger than their former associates in the years before their departure. Also, the number of seed conference championships won by departing schools generally exceeded their “fair share” under an equal-likelihood assumption.