Home-Field Advantage: Fact or Fiction?


Drew Smith

The Showstoppers perform in front of the crowd during Wayzata’s Homecoming Football game.

Sam Sklar, Sports Editor

  Home field advantage is a common excuse heard in the sports industry. Some people think that home field advantage has no impact at all on sporting events but there is statistical evidence to back it up.
  According to sports-reference.com, NBA home teams have the highest winning percentage with 59.9%. That is followed by the NFL at 57.1%, the NFL at 55.1%, and the MLB at 54%.
  There is even evidence in high school sports too. Last season the baseball team had a winning home record at 7-5, despite having an overall losing record at 8-10. Also, three of the four wins from the football team this year have been home games.
  One major factor for home field advantage is travel. All road teams have to travel to their games. In professional sports this can be a very long distance. For example, the Minnesota Vikings played in Los Angeles on a short week Thursday night game. This cuts into their practice and preparation time. Players can also struggle to adjust to the time zone changes.
  When teams from the east coast travel to the west coast, they endure three hour time change. This can be difficult to adjust to.
  Another factor that helps the home team is crowd noise. There are many examples of this from multiple sports. In football, fans scream and yell when the opposing team is on third down. This makes it difficult for the quarterback to hear the play call and to communicate it to the rest of the team. In basketball, fans will obnoxiously scream (or howl at Timberwolves games) while the opposing team is shooting free throws.
  Senior writer at theathletic.com Michael Russo thinks hockey gives the most advantage because it is one of the only sports that has rules that specifically benefit the home team. “There are a gazillion advantages you have when you are at home,” said Russo.
  Home teams in the NHL get to do line changes last, put their stick on the ice last in a faceoff, and they get to choose which side of the ice to attack on for two of the three periods.
  Although some factors in some high school sports are not as impactful such as crowd noise, Russo actually believes that home field advantage is much more prominent for high school athletes.
  “With experience a lot of times comes less anxiety,” said Russo “As you grow older and older and you get used to going on road trips.
  Going into opposing enemy territory is not nearly as intimidating as it would be when you are younger and do not have those experiences.”