Home field advantage is a term long used in the sporting world. Statistically, the term truly means something as history has proved. With that said, I think it’s worth a closer look! What are the various factors, that when combined, favor the dark uniforms? The obvious, "no duh" rationale is the throngs of screaming, rabid fans who create the famous "hostile environment". So, now that I’ve wowed you with that tidbit of sports genius, I’d say there must be a hundred smaller, yet noteworthy, factors that give the home team, an advantage. So, what are they? My answer, I don’t really know! I’m not a pro athlete!
This post was sparked by a few back and forth discussions I’ve had with other SB Nation sports fans about "weather" which is another big factor. I’m not sure what constitutes a "blizzard" in the eyes of stats keepers but I’ve heard it said the Patriots are 11-0 all time in such conditions. The infamous "tuck rule" game comes to mind and who could ever forget Mark Henderson, the semi-incarcerated hero on work release, snowplowing the Pats to a 3-LOVE victory over the phreezing phish? AWESOME! After pondering the issue just a bit more…. I thought of several additional factors I believe further favors the hometown lads.
My plan for this post is to list just a few I’ve thought of, and open up the floor for others to comment, or add the ones they feel should be considered for this list. Here goes nothing:
1. Spending the previous night with your loved ones and not "the guys" in a hotel. While it may be a good time for youngsters to "whoop it up" with their buddies on the road, most guys are settled adults, many of whom have children, wives or are in committed relationships. For most of these dudes, kissing their daughter goodnight is far better autographing some girl’s bra (or worse) in a hotel lobby or lounge.
2. Driving your own car, on your own timetable, to the game. Visiting teams are on tight schedules to get to & from the airports, hotels, team meals and even to & from the stadiums. If one guy is still looking for his IPOD when the bus is supposed to head for the stadium, it puts the coaches, players and everybody in a foul mood. This is particularly relevant to the Pats who often live 20 to 40 minutes away from the stadium. It’s also somewhat of a negative factor for the visitors as most teams stay in a hotel closer to Boston and the team bus must commute 30 to 40 minutes by police escort through tight Foxboro traffic to get to Gillette. A serious PAIN.
3. Quality of sleep! How often have we slept in a bed that lends itself to insomnia? How do you feel the next day? I can say it throws my day all out of whack from the very get-go. When the snoring guy in your hotel room your 310 pound starting right guard instead of your soft beautiful lady, it’s a factor! No further explanation needed there.
4. Knowing the Staff. There’s something to be said for having an "in" with the franchise and stadium staff. There was once a day where home town kickers had ball-boys put footballs into a dryer for some added heat just before crucial kicks. While the NFL has tried to plug up some of these holes over the years, I’m certain there’s a few perks they just can’t get to!
I have others but that’s enough out of me. My hope is to hear from you folks. I’ve heard it said that even refs are just slightly more favorable to their stadium hosts but I don’t know if there’s ever been such a study. Feel free to make comments on mine or add some of yours I didn’t touch upon.