Ethan Scheiner

Scheiner Photo

Position Title

581 Kerr Hall

Education & Previous Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, 2002-2004
  • Advanced Research Fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University,  2001-2002
  • Ph.D., Political Science, Duke University, 2001
  • M.A., Political Science, Duke University, 1998
  • M.A., Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994
  • B.A., Politics, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1991


Ethan Scheiner’s research and teaching focus on the intersection of politics and sports. 

Scheiner is the author of Freedom to Win: A Cold War Story of the Courageous Hockey Team That Fought the Soviets for the Soul of Its People—and Olympic Gold (July 4, 2023 release):

A classic David & Goliath tale, complete with colorful heroes, cold-hearted villains, and nail-biting games—with the hockey rink serving as an arena for a nation’s resistance.

During the height of the Cold War, a group of small-town young men lead their underdog hockey team from the little country of Czechoslovakia against the Soviet Union, the juggernaut in their sport. As they battled on the ice, the young players would keep their people’s quest for freedom alive, and forge a way to fight back against the authoritarian forces that sought to crush them.

From the sudden invasion of Czechoslovakia by an armada of tanks and 500,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers, to a hockey victory over the Soviets that inspired half a million furious citizens to take to the streets, Freedom to Win tells a story that ranges from iconic moments in history to courageous individual stories, including: the fearless escape by three brothers who make up the core of the national team, thrilling world championship games, one brave player taking a stand and leading ten thousand people in a tear-filled rendition of the Czechoslovak national anthem amid chants of “freedom!” while a revolution rages in the streets of Prague, and the team taking on its nemesis one last time with the Olympic gold medal at stake.

At the heart of Freedom to Win is the story of the Holíks, a Czechoslovak family whose resistance to the Communists embodied the deepest desires of the people of their country. Faced with life under the cruel and arbitrary regime that had stolen their family butcher shop, the Holík boys became national hockey icons and inspirations to their people.

Filled with heart-pounding moments on the ice and unforgettable slices of history, Freedom to Win is the ultimate tale of why sports truly matter.

Scheiner’s research and teaching also focus on important issues surrounding democratic representation.

Scheiner’s first book, Democracy Without Competition in Japan: Opposition Failure in a One-Party Dominant State (2006 at Cambridge University Press) offers an explanation for opposition party failure in Japan, a democracy dominated by one party since 1955. 

Scheiner’s second book, Electoral Systems and Political Context: How the Effects of Rules Vary across New and Established Democracies (co-authored with Robert Moser, 2012 at Cambridge University Press), examines elections around the world to understand when electoral rules will – and will not – have the effects typically expected of them. 

In addition, Scheiner was the co-editor, along with Robert Pekkanen, Steven Reed, and Daniel Smith, of the Japan Decides book series editions that offered analyses of the 2012, 2014, and 2017 lower house elections in Japan. He has also published articles on political parties, elections, and electoral systems across a range of political science and Asian studies journals.

For more information Scheiner's research, see his CV.

Research Focus

Comparative Politics, Politics & Sports, Japanese Politics, Political Parties, Electoral Systems, Elections


  • Scheiner, Ethan. 2023. Freedom to Win: A Cold War Story of the Courageous Hockey Team That Fought the Soviets for the Soul of Its People―and Olympic Gold. New York: Pegasus Books.
  • Moser, Robert G. and Ethan Scheiner. 2012. Electoral Systems and Political Context: How the Effects of Rules Vary Across New and Established Democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Scheiner, Ethan. 2006. Democracy Without Competition in Japan: Opposition Failure in a One-Party Dominant State. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Ethan Scheiner’s courses present substantively interesting events in a fun manner to help students learn to better analyze the world around them. In Politics & Sports (POL12A), students learn about world and American politics of the 20th century through fascinating sports stories. In Comparative Electoral Systems (POL140A), students learn how the rules we use to elect politicians shape the kind of politics we end up with. In Introduction to Comparative Politics (POL2), students learn how to use social science approaches to better understand the world around them.

Awards & Honors

  • Featured as example of UC Davis mentorship (2015):
  • One of three finalists for the ASUCD Excellence in Education Award for the UC Davis College of Letters and Science - Division of Social Sciences (2011)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University Institute for International Studies (2002-04)
  • Advanced Research Fellow, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University (2001-02)
  • Nominee for American Political Science Association Award for Best Dissertation in the field of Political Economy (2002)
  • Japan Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (1999)
  • National Security Education Program Fellow (1998-1999)
  • Voted Friendliest Person at the Middlebury College summer Japanese language program (1996)
  • Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, UC Santa Cruz, 1992
  • Captain, UC Santa Cruz Men's Swim Team, 1988-90