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Home-Team Advantage: The Fan Factor
Home advantage can be easily measured in boos and cheers, but can a good fan base have a real impact on the outcome of a game? Check out Groupon’s guide to the power of being in the stands.
The ear-splitting support of a raucous fan base. Familiarity with the unique dimensions of the home baseball diamond, or the consistency of the football field’s turf. Less fatigue after a night spent at home rather than running suicides across the country. There are numerous factors that all, in theory, contribute to the much-touted concept of the home-field advantage, but the phenomenon is a tricky one to quantify. For college or professional football games, the conventional wisdom is that the advantage of playing at home is worth about three points, and a study from researchers at East Carolina University suggests that, at least at the college level, the actual advantage is around 2.3 points.
Studies based on athlete questionnaires indicate that athletes perceive a disadvantage when playing in front of a booing, jeering mob—no surprise there—but there’s also evidence that the crowd’s impact on the officials may be just as decisive, at least overseas. A Harvard study of British soccer games concluded that referees levied more penalties against away teams and that the home-team partiality was starker among less-experienced whistleblowers. The same study should be encouraging for die-hard fans that feel their attendance can have a tangible impact on the outcome of a game, since it argues that a unit of 10,000 people in the stands is worth about a tenth of a goal for the home team.