How Does Estimating Antitrust Damages Compare to Monday Morning Quarterbacking?

January 17, 2014

The University of Alabama's loss to Auburn University in a college football game last November sparked a fierce debate over Alabama's decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal rather than let the game go to overtime. The postgame "what if" scenarios that were argued present many similarities to the analyses economists and lawyers undertake when determining the effects of allegedly anticompetitive behavior, according to "Monday Morning Quarterbacking and Antitrust Damages" (Law360, January 10, 2014), coauthored by Vice President Aaron Yeater and attorney Kelsey Shannon of Paul Hastings LLP.

The authors walk through a sportswriter's analysis of the controversial decision, examining his reliance on data, his adjustments to that data, and his identification of variables involved in order to model Alabama's unsuccessful decision. They compare the football team's actions to the analyses economists perform in determining damages related to, say, cartel behavior. They explain that data used to inform a "but-for" scenario can often be misleading for economists (as well as for sports commentators), and acknowledge that "economists and lawyers are forecasting (or more often backcasting) what would take place in a world that doesn't exist." The authors conclude that although careful thinking and rigorous analysis of available data can lead to plausible results in the "but-for" world, one should expect second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking.

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