For those who don’t know I run track and field. Recently me and my coach were deciding how many races to run at conference, specifically whether to run two or one race. This is a surprising complicated problem. This is because there are many factors, the primary two factors are 1.)how runners are in a given race, and 2.)how much the first race will tire me out. In this decision there are two economic applications/effects; diseconomies of scale and game theory
First, let me explain why the number of competitors matter. Obviously, the more people enter in a races the more and more difficult it becomes to succeed or score points in the race. There are more people to beat, and the more likely someone skilled enters the race. More than that if a certain number of people enter in a race it will be split into prelims & finals. This is when this is when they split the field into multiple races or prelims. They then take the top finishers in each race and then run a final race. This means if too many people enter, not only will it be harder to succeed, the more races I will have to compete in.
The other concern is how much one race will effect the other. This is similar to diseconomies of scale. We can perceive this in two ways; binary or numerical. We can say that whether I choose to enter or not enter the race will effect the utility of another race, but also how fast I run in one race will effect how fast I run in another. This while we know the rough effects of running two races we don’t know how many people will be enter in what, or exactly how tired I’ll be.