We empirically investigate if tournaments between heterogeneous contestants are less intense. To test our hypotheses we use professional sports data from the TOYOTA Handball-Bundesliga, the major handball league in Germany. Using either differences in betting odds or rankings to measure ability differences, our results support standard tournament theory as we find a highly significant negative impact of the matchup's heterogeneity on joint teame efforts. However, further analysis shows that this overall decrease in efforts is almost entirely driven by the reaction of the ex-ante favorite team.
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