Sports. Games. Competition. The Olympic Games.Jay Eagle

Each conjures up images of well-conditioned athletes tackling a variety of sports where they can excel and win individually or for their team. As we think of student athletes, we recognize that the lessons learned in athletics can help students prepare for future careers, whether on the court or field or off. 

But from a classroom perspective, sports can provide another opportunity - to discuss practical economic ties that can help students dig deeper into a topic that might be of interest to them. 

Think about opportunity cost. For an athlete to dedicate the time needed to excel at a sport to an Olympic competition level, what must they give up?

How about human capital? How will an athlete need to invest in themselves and their own skill set to reach their athletic goals? 

Or take the Olympic Games, for example. The opportunities to tie in economic concepts abound: what kinds of public goods and capital resource investments does a host city have to make? What are the costs and benefits involved in hosting the Olympics? How do Olympians earn income?

To help make it easy to tie in these types of economic concepts, we've compiled several resources below related to sports that you can use in the K-12 classroom. 

Use the Winter or Summer Olympics as a Springboard for Economics

The winter or summer Olympics can be a great starting point for discussing economic topics. While these major sporting events are fresh in students' minds, teachers can weave in economic concepts from our Fifty Nifty Econ Cards into the discussion. It's easier to talk about more challenging concepts like exchange rates if you couch it in terms of figuring out the cost for Olympic tickets in another country, for example. You can also talk about entrepreneurship, producers and consumers from the unique lens of needs and wants during an Olympic competition.

To make the process easy, we've created a quick guide of concepts and discussion questions or activities you can use. 

Games, Books and Research

Looking for other ways to use sports or sporting events to help make economic concepts come alive? Other Federal Reserve Banks also have resources available; a sampling are linked below. For more, visit

Lesson Plans

A Trip Around the World through Exports (grades 9-12): Your students use many goods and services that are imported from other countries. Use this Atlanta Fed classroom lesson to identify top export leaders and how international sports and camaraderie can influence world trading patterns.

On the Court with Michael Jordan (grades 4-6): This book is a springboard for a lesson that includes a simulation to learn about choices, alternatives, opportunity cost and human capital.

Professional Baseball - Can You Join the League? (grades 9-12): In this active learning lesson, students apply economic concepts to a professional baseball league. The lesson underscores the importance of incentives, control of supply, and potential market inefficiencies resulting from a cartel.

The Legacy of the Olympics: Economic Burden or Boom? (grades 9-12): The Olympics generate sportsmanship and national pride, but the event costs a lot of money for the host country. In this activity, student will review the economic benefits and deficits countries experience during the Olympics.

What are College Athletes Wearing? (grades 9-12): In this classroom activity, explore economic concepts by observing the relationship between the SEC football and sports apparel market.


Data on the Consumption of Sports and Recreational Goods: Want to get students working with data and interpreting charts? Use information from the St. Louis Fed to help students look at trends.

Labor of Love: This article talks about income disparities by differing jobs, including major league baseball players.

Take me Out to the Ball Learn Economics from the Atlanta Fed: Baseball and economics have more than statistics in common; read this article for a sampling of ideas to use America's favorite pastime as a teaching tool.

The Economics of Sports - What's the Score?: Are professional sports teams and so-called "mega-events" like the Olympics Games a good bet for economic development? Hear from an economist for a perspective in this video from the Atlanta Fed, or read an overview.

What are the Benefits of Hosting a Major League Sports Franchise?: This economic review dives into an analysis of public spending on attracting major league teams to cities and the impact on job creation, tax revenue and quality of life.

Connect with us

Do you have ways you've incorporated sports into your economics or personal finance curricula? If so, share them with us via email, and we might use them in a future edition of our Teacher Talk Planner.

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