Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tennis Courts

I played tennis the other night with three friends. The courts at which we chose to play charge money if the man with the clipboard comes by. I had heard the rate was $5 and I assumed that was $5 per court. He came around and we found out that it was $5 per person. I question the incentives that this pricing structure creates.

The scarce resource marked for allocation is the courts, or court time. Consumers are assumed to maximize utility. When I consider my personal utility derived from tennis, things like number of hits, running around, games played, serves hit, etc. All of these metrics are reduced by playing doubles instead of singles. When we play doubles, we pay $20 per court, but singles is $10 per court. Either way I am paying $5, so whats the big deal? I get more utility from playing singles (keeping competition constant) so doubles gives me less bang for buck individually, and we are paying collectively more for the court.

My incentive structure is to have the same four people and use two courts to play singles. So due to the pricing structure, the incentive is to use more courts with fewer people which makes the resource more scarce per person. Stinking public operated tennis courts with their poor pricing decisions.

Unless for some reason they want to encourage singles over doubles play, or bank on first-timers or non-utility maximizing consumers, I think they need to evaluate their system.


  1. Maybe there is less energy expended in doubles and so people play longer...

  2. good thought. Jeff - I like the way you think.