Lack of fans give home team disadvantage

By on February 1, 2012

The Cameron Crazies. The Dog Pound. The Bleacher Creatures.

Those are just some examples of a the most intense groups of fans in all of sports. While Quinnipiac University undoubtedly has its fair share of passionate fans, including those involved with the QU Spirit Group, it has been clear of late that student support for Bobcats sports is dwindling.

Whatever the reason may be, the lack of students at basketball and hockey games has been nothing short of shocking. With the amenities available at York Hill alongside the $52 million arenas, it is surprising to see so many students uninterested in attending games.

The impact of small turnouts reaches further than making the arena look pretty, however. Instead, it extends towards one extremely important factor: home advantage.

Ideally, home advantage, be it on the ice or court, should give the Bobcats the upper hand against their opponents at the TD Bank Sports Center. Thus far though, that is not so certain.

“Scorecasting,” a book written by behavioral economist Tobias Moskowitz, gives an interesting look at trends in sports at the college and professional level. As it exhibits whether home advantage is legitimate or not, it supplies the reader with some interesting tidbits concerning hockey and basketball.

For example, on average in a typical NHL hockey game, the home team receives 20 percent less penalties than the visiting team. By the end of the season, it is possible for a team to increase their scoring average by more than .25 because of this, which could be the difference between making the playoffs and not. The numbers can be adjusted for college play as well, with similar results.

Alongside, the referees in basketball are greatly impacted by the home court. According to the Sloan Sports Conference, a visiting team in basketball may receive one or two extra “subjective” calls than the home team would, such as traveling or loose ball fouls. For many teams, it is a single possession that may determine a game, and considering the men’s basketball has lost two home losses by two possesions or fewer, the difference is significant.

So what causes these trends? Social pressure. Pressure brought about by the deafening noise of the fans. The four teams are 26-14-4 at home this winter, a record which could be improved upon just by a couple hundred extra students making the free trip to York Hill.

Next time fans head to the arena, remember that a simple shout of “Sir!” to the referee after a call could ultimately make a difference in the win/loss column.

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