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Impacts of social capital on performance of professional athletes: evidence from motorboat racing in Japan

Published Online:pp 220-240

Motorboat racing is a sport organised as public gambling in Japan. As well as physical strength and driving technique, skills to adjust equipment are critical for racers to win the race. Most racers participate in small groups to share knowledge and cost of the modification of propellers, which suggests that social capital could constitute another factor in winning the race. Using comprehensive panel data of motorboat racers, this study is the first to analyse determining factors in racers' performance, focusing on social capital as well as physical factors. Estimation results reveal that bridging social capital exerts no effect on performance while bonding social capital has positive impacts on performance. The latter effect is particularly salient for inexperienced racers who most need psychological aid backed by strong ties. The results are consistent with the contingency theory in social capital studies.


social capital, social networks, sports, performance analysis, knowledge spillovers, Japan, motorboat racing, panel data, public gambling