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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Does home-field advantage actually exist?

<r year of high school, my volleyball team reached the regional finals.  Because we had been seeded the higher team, the game was to be played in our home gym. The night of the match, the gym was packed with our fans. Not only had we reached the regional finals, but we also had the opportunity to play at home in front of our fans? It seemed almost too perfect.

I loved my high school gym.  I knew exactly how high I could bump a ball without it hitting the ceiling, and I knew where to stand so that when I served, my ball would immediately drop when it crossed the net.  When we had learned that the regional game would be held at my high school, it seemed almost unfair.  We automatically held the upper hand just because we would be playing on our home court. Right?

In the famous book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven Levitt both agree that home court advantage is the real deal. The correlation between home court advantage and winning is a different story, however. Research proves that home-field advantage does not necessarily affect sports such as golf, football, and baseball; nevertheless, sports such as basketball and hockey appear to have more of a home-field advantage.  This could be because of the familiarity of surroundings, such as how dense, loud and close the fans are to the competing area.

Varsity women’s volleyball player, Lucy Stevens ’18, believes that a strong fan base plays a significant role in how a team competes at home. Ultimately, she suggests that fans are an advantage at home games. “In high school, I would play teams where the whole town would show to root for their team. It was intimidating to have people heckling you.  At the same time, one of the best memories I have was beating a big-time rival at home and having the fans there to cheer us on.” 

Dwight Alexander ’18, a member of the varsity men’s track and field also believes that the presence of fans at a home game can be a huge advantage to the home team.  “When you have a strong fan base it gets you pumped for the game and it allows you to play better,” Alexander said.
Thinking about home-court advantage from a different perspective, varsity football player JJ Cichoke ’20 believes that home court advantage has more to do with the mental aspect of athletics.  “Playing at home is more comfortable.  [You] have certain routines that you do at home that you can’t do on the road.”

Varsity men’s track and field member Maurice Hicks ’18 adds to this by stating that “at home people are in a different mindset.  That’s where they practice and where they get familiarity.”

In high school, we wound up winning the night of the regional finals my senior year.  It was a crazy game that probably could have gone either way had the refs made different calls. Thus, I propose the idea that home-court advantage does not exist simply because the outcome of a game depends on a ref’s blow of the whistle.  What about the Gonzaga vs. Northwestern game when the refs decided to call a technical on NU’s coach for being right and messed with what could have been a two-point game?  But that’s none of MY business…

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