Posts Tagged ‘NCAA Tournament’

h1

An Economist’s View: Using Trade Data to Predict the Final Four

April 4, 2014

Natalie Soroka is an economist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis. She spends more time focusing on international trade statistics and trends than on basketball…

Economist Natalie Soroka used trade data and an unorthodox equation to predict the winner of the Final Four. Her prediction is Wisconsin beating Florida.

Economist Natalie Soroka used trade data and an unorthodox equation to predict the winner of the Final Four.

The emotional whirlwind of March Madness is nearing a close, with the Final Four teams getting ready to face off this Saturday. Brackets have been busted, face paint smeared with tears, hearts have been broken, and our Cinderellas have turned into pumpkins, but it’s not over yet!

Who will be victorious? Is there anything in the trade data that can give us a clue? Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Methodology:

One can reason that there are several aspects (“variables”, if you will) that can help a team attain the title of national champion:

  • skills or talent,
  • nutrition to keep players healthy,
  • healthcare and medicine to take care of injuries, and
  • supplies for actually playing the game.

In other words, to be a little “mathy” about it (just bear with me):

Winning = ƒ(skills, nutrition, healthcare, supplies) + ε

Translation: Winning is a function of the variables listed above, plus that little “ε” at the end, which would be the error term indicating that there are various things we aren’t able to account for (Mercer, anyone?).

So if we were to try and look at these four variables in an extremely simple analysis, using the very same publicly available data we use to counsel U.S. exporters, can we predict a winner?

 

Skills and Talent:

We may not have data readily available on “skill” or “talent,” but as these players are all represent educational institutions, we can assume that the state’s educational services industry plays a role.

Among the four states represented in the Final Four, Florida has the largest educational services industry by far, amounting to nearly $8 billion in 2012, topping Connecticut’s respectable $4.7 billion. On the Midwest/West side, Wisconsin’s $2.7 billion educational services industry tops Kentucky’s $1.1 billion.

But what about exports? After all, we are the International Trade Administration. The Institute of International Education collects information on foreign students hosted by U.S. universities, which can be used as a proxy for higher education exports. While not all players are international students, one could reason that a school (or state) that has international appeal is also one that would be able to pull the best talent.

Using the IIE’s data (which we also highlighted in a blog post last week), the University of Florida tops the list with 5,961 foreign students. The University of Wisconsin again has the upper hand over Kentucky here, with 5,291 international students. Finally, we can take into account each university’s seed at the beginning of the tournament as an indicator of the team’s record and other skills not captured above. Who comes out on top?

Winners:

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Nutrition:

Healthy eating makes for healthy people and athletes. Looking at state import data, Florida tops the list for its imports of products such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, isn’t Wisconsin in the Midwest, the home of those “amber waves of grain”? In fact, with its $4.5 billion farming industry in 2011, Wisconsin does come out on top among these states, followed by Florida, Kentucky, and Connecticut.

Finally, we can take a look at who imports the most processed foods, the “bad guy” du jour when it comes to health. Despite being known for its citrus fruits and water springs, Florida blows its competitors out of the water with $1.9 billion in processed foods imports in 2013, worsening its overall nutrition rating. Instead, Kentucky comes out on top with only $233 million of processed foods imports.

So who wins the “healthiness” battle? Looks like those amber waves really help.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Healthcare:

As we’ve all seen, injuries sadly do occur. When these unfortunate events take place, good healthcare services and medical supplies are necessary to fix up young players and get them back on the court.

Again, we see Florida rising to the top over Connecticut with its $67.5 billion healthcare services industry in 2012, and Wisconsin topping Kentucky at $23.5 billion. With regards to medical supplies, Kentucky tops the rest of these states when it comes to imports of pharmaceutical products, with $4.6 billion of imports in 2013. However, for medical and surgical instruments, Florida again tops the list with nearly $2.3 billion of imports in 2013, followed by Wisconsin’s $1.5 billion of imports.

Overall, Florida wins on healthcare, driven by its large industry and imports of medical instruments.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Sports Supplies:

What good is a basketball team if there’s no basketball to dunk?

Kentucky topped these states when it comes to imports of inflatable balls (including basketballs), at $35 million in 2013. As for other supplies, Wisconsin rose to the top in imports of athletic footwear, coming in at $70 million in 2013.

Finally, to keep the athletes in shape off the court, Wisconsin again topped the list with $105 million in imports of general gym equipment, pushing the state to the top of this category.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

So where does that leave us? If we average out the “scores” for each state/team, we wind up with one state’s economy pushing its team to the top:

University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!)

However, if my personal bracket is any indication, that “little ‘ε’” isn’t quite so little, so you may be best off just throwing a dart and picking one at random. Generating purely random scores for the Final Four teams, we wind up with (……drumroll…….):

University of Florida (Yay Gators!)

Using random selection, Natalie's bracket points to Florida beating Kentucky in the championship.

How will this analysis fare? Will data help the Badgers win the day, or is the championship at the mercy of the court gods? I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Enjoy the games!

 

No economists were harmed during the creation of this off-the-cuff and highly spurious analysis. The author drew on extensive basketball experience gained from middle-school gym class, casual sports viewership, and years of practice using the esteemed “mascot method” of bracket picking.

Domestic production data is the latest available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Economic Accounts. State import data was retrieved from ITA’s TradeStats Express platform: http://tse.export.gov/stateimports.

h1

Destination: Sports! How Sporting Events like the NCAA Tournament Support U.S. Travel Exports

March 27, 2014

Ron Erdman is the Deputy Director of the International Trade Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Office.

Sporting events are a huge draw for travelers. The first competitive event for major international events like the Olympics and the World Cup is between the global cities competing to be host.

Major sports events draw visitors from all around the world and that can be a huge contributor to a region’s economic growth and development.

For tonight’s start to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Memphis, Anaheim, Indianapolis, and New York will host thousands of college basketball’s biggest fans, visiting from all around the country. Those visitors are buying tickets, purchasing meals, getting hotel rooms – all supporting these cities’ local economies.

Among those visitors will likely also be some international travelers.

This is another way that sporting events like the NCAA Tournament support export industries. Our data show that of the 51.2 million international visitors the United States hosted in 2011, nearly 8 percent of them attended a sports event while they were here. That means more than 4 million people attended U.S. sports events while visiting from overseas.

We estimate that in 2013, that number increased to 4.4 million people.

Those are huge numbers and significant contributors to U.S. exports. Recently released data show travel and tourism exports totaling a record $180.7 billion in 2013, accounting for about 8 percent of total national exports.

Those numbers matter because behind them are the jobs supported by both international and domestic travel and tourism. The industry supports 7.7 million jobs throughout the country according to the most recent data.

Travel and tourism exports are much like education exports in that they never leave U.S. borders. But since the sports tickets, food, and lodging costs are paid for from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

So when you watch the games this weekend, remember that even if your team is no longer alive, the 16 teams still playing are helping draw crowds and creating exports.

That’s something we should all cheer for!

Want to learn more about the Travel and Tourism industry? Check out our website for more data and subscribe to our newsletter!

h1

March Madness Earns an A in Economics

March 24, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

This infographic from the International Institute of Education shows that more than 819,000 international students studied in the United States in 2013.

Institute of International Education. (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

If you’re anything like me, you spent the weekend locked in front of the television, watching the NCAA Tournament. Hearts were broken (including mine), underdogs were victorious, and former champions were sent packing.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that we were supporting the U.S. economy the entire time!

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NCAA Tournament, one of the pinnacle sporting and cultural events in the United States, is a tremendous supporter of several export industries.

One obvious industry the Tournament supports is education. The athletes competing in this event are students representing some of America’s great universities.

The education industry is a huge part of the American economy, supporting jobs and fostering research and innovation.

Education is also a major service export. The United States has some of the world’s best universities, hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Those students pay tuition and living expenses, including room and board, transportation, books, and health insurance. Since most of those expenditures come from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

Commerce data show that international students contributed a record $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, part of a record $682 billion in services exports.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators says that education exports support 313,000 jobs in the United States, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 and a crucial contributor to our economic growth.

Here are some more key highlights about education exports from the Institute of International Education:

·         A record 819,644 international students studied in the United States in 2012-2013;

·         The top two fields of study for international students are business and engineering;

·         The University of Southern California hosts the most foreign students, at 9,840.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll also see some international students competing on the basketball court.

The standout is Kansas University’s Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian player who was a top basketball recruit last year. There’s also NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg from Australia, UCLA’s Sooren Derboghosian from Iran, and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa from Canada, among others.

As NAFSA points out, the benefits of international students studying in the United States last a lot longer than the road to the Final Four. Foreign students bring unique perspectives into American classrooms, broadening horizons for everyone involved. The relationships formed and cultural exchanges made help build bridges across borders.

So just remember the next time you watch a game, even if your team loses, you’re helping the U.S. economy win!

For more information about the education industry and how the International Trade Administration supports it, check out our updates on the ITA blog.

h1

Studying Up on March Madness

March 28, 2013

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Chris Higginbotham is a Communications Specialist in ITA’s Office of Public Affairs. John Siegmund is an International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Services. 

iStock photo of a university campus

Steve Shepard – iStock photo

When it comes to filling out our NCAA Tournament brackets, we probably all have a lot to learn. While there isn’t necessarily a college course available on that, it’s important to remember that the teams in our brackets represent educational institutions that provide a major source of American exports.

More than 764,000 international students attended higher education institutions in the United States in 2011-2012, representing 3.7 percent of the U.S. student body. Some of those students are (or were) playing on the courts at this year’s NCAA Tournament. California’s women’s team’s Avigiel Cohen is from Israel, Gonzaga’s player-of-the-year candidate Kelly Olynyk is Canadian, and New Mexico State’s eight foreign players are known as the “Foreign Legion.”

International students, whether or not they came here to play basketball, accounted for nearly $23 billion in American exports in 2012.

How can education be considered an export? When a student comes from overseas to study in the United States, that student pays for tuition and fees, books, and all other living expenses. Just like medical services and travel and tourism, education is an export even though it isn’t shipped across a border to a customer.

Top Institutions hosting international students that are represented in the NCAA Tournament

Top institutions hosting international students that are represented in the NCAA Tournament (2011-2012 data from the Institute of International Education)

With 9,269 foreign students, the University of Southern California was ranked number one for hosting students from overseas in 2012. That wasn’t good enough to earn them a seed in the NCAA Tournament this year, but nine of the top 20 higher education students for hosting foreign students are in this year’s men’s tournament.

Education is a huge part of America’s service industry and education exports support tens of thousands of American jobs. The NCAA tournament supports education by giving a portion of the revenue from events like March Madness back to Division I institutions. Each time you attend a game or watch one on TV, you’re supporting exports, you’re supporting jobs, and you’re supporting education.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez discussed the importance of education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week – not just as an export, but also in its capacity to support tomorrow’s leaders. The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship helps student entrepreneurs create successful businesses that create jobs, and its efforts have brought results: companies founded or co-founded by MIT alumni employ about one million people in Massachusetts.

Don’t forget to keep checking back on our blog as we continue to show how the NCAA Tournament contributes American exports and supports American jobs.

Enjoy the games!

h1

March Madness and ITA’s Trade Agreements Compliance Program

March 25, 2013

Steve Williams is the Operations Team Lead with the International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center 

So far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, we’ve International Trade Administration emblemseen several underdogs knock out the proverbial Goliath. As a small business owner, you might feel at times like an underdog. Just like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast, who have to compete against schools with bigger budgets and more highly touted recruits, small businesses can feel at a disadvantage when they compete overseas against companies who have a home-court advantage. It might seem intimidating, but just like these teams in the Sweet 16, you can come out on top with the right strategy.

If your company’s export goals are ever impeded by a foreign government-imposed trade barrier, you can call on the International Trade Administration’s Trade Agreements Compliance (TAC) Program to come into the game.  The TAC Program works to help remove the trade barriers you face. Since the inception of the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, the Program has initiated 735 market access and compliance cases in 104 countries, successfully removing 293 specific non-tariff barriers (in 80 countries) affecting a broad range of industries.

As a recent example, the International Trade Administration (ITA) helped Johnson Outdoors, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Wisconsin, regain ownership of its trademark in Russia. A Johnson Outdoors competitor registered the Johnson Outdoors’ trademark with Russia’s patent office and then attempted to sue Johnson Outdoors for alleged violation of the trademark. ITA spoke with Russian officials about proper protection of IPR. This resulted in the Russian company dropping its suit against Johnson Outdoors and relinquishing its trademark, allowing Johnson Outdoors to maintain $100 million in annual revenue.

Our program works by assembling a small team of experts from our 400 specialists, experts both in the country and the trade agreement relevant to your specific issue.  We can assist in helping to remove or reduce discriminatory or unnecessary trade restrictive barriers related to customs, rules of origin, government procurement, investment, services or standards testing, licensing, certification requirements, or even issues related to intellectual property rights. Best of all, our services are completely free of charge!

The next time you need some help with a foreign government trade barrier, contact us and we’ll be in your court.

h1

Let the Games – and the Exports – Begin!

March 21, 2013

Chris Higginbotham is a Communications Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Chris's Final Four is the University of North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio State and Louisville. He has UNC beating Louisville in the final. Notable upsets include UNC beating Kansas, Florida and Indiana; Wichita State knocking off Gonzaga and Creighton making the Elite 8. He has Duke losing to Creighton in the second round, but a UNC alumnus predicting a Duke loss is hardly notable.

As a UNC alumnus, Chris Higginbotham showed a bias toward the Tar Heels in his bracket.

Well, we all had a couple of days to fill out our brackets. Now the men’s NCAA Tournament games have officially begun and the women’s games are soon to follow. You may have been watching as your brackets were already busted in the First Four games (like mine), or you might be four for four at this point.

One thing we can rely on is that millions of sports fans will be glued to the TV during the next couple of weeks to cheer on alma maters, rivals, and cinderellas. CBS estimates that 21 million sports fans watched last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.

On top of those 21 million viewers in the United States were viewers watching licensed broadcasts of the game overseas. That’s not just true for basketball; American sporting events from the Super Bowl to tennis tournaments, golf and auto racing are licensed overseas. And those licensing agreements are considered exports.

Based on the most recent data available, licensing for broadcasting and recording of live events totaled $675 million in 2011. That includes more than just sports; that also counts live entertainment events in other fields, like the Oscars. It counts licenses for both TV and radio. The largest market for these exports in 2011 was Japan, at $57 million.

Sports contribute to exports in other ways than just broadcast licenses; sports and performing arts are a significant part of America’s strong service industry (which achieved record exports in 2012). Exports in sports and performing arts totaled $893 million in 2011. This category includes services in the production, promotion, and organization of live entertainers including athletes, singers, and dancers.

Combining the above figures shows that the entertainment aspect of sports and entertainment events like the NCAA Tournament contributed to more than $1.5 billion in exports in 2011. Those exports continue to support thousands of jobs; it’s now estimated that every billion dollars in exports supports 4,926 jobs in the United States.

So remember, when you watch the NCAA Tournament – or any American sports or entertainment event – you’re supporting American exports and jobs.

I wouldn’t recommend using that justification if your boss catches you watching games at work this week though.

Keep checking back here as we continue to show how events like March Madness help support American exports. Enjoy the games!

(note: the data behind this post can be found from the Bureau of Economic Analysis tables 1 and 4)

(This article was edited on March 22 to clarify that the $1.5 billion figure represents the sum of broadcast licensing export figures and sports and performing arts figures)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 346 other followers