May 13, 2008

Drum and Yglesias try to make sense out of why the home field (or, in this case, court) edge is much greater in basketball than it is in other sports. Unlike football, where the reigning Super Bowl champion had a .500 home record last season, the likely NBA winner will likely have a much better record at home than on the road.

The usual explanations get trotted out (the benefits of a friendly crowd, intimidated refs), but those seem to be common to all spectator sports. Ice hockey, for example, is played in similar arenas (often the same arenas), but the home ice advantage is slight, and hockey refs play a much more important role in determining the outcome of the game than their hoops counterparts.

And as far as accruing the benefits of the home crowd are concerned, then why don't college teams maintain the same edge when they play at a local, but not home, arena, as often happens during post-season play. Indiana U. has a much greater home court advantage when they play in Bloomington than when the play a few miles away at the Hoosierdome, even though the RCA is a much larger venue, and can thus hold more of their fans. And of course, other sports have loud, boisterous crowds, too.

My hypothesis is that depth perception is paramount in a game like basketball. The more you have a read on where the basket really is vis a vis the stands, the better chance you have of making shots. Since basketball is a sport of 12-2 runs, the more opportunities you have to make such runs, the higher likelihood your team has to win.

1 comment:

LYT said...

Basketball's the only sport I can think of where, when one gets an opportunity for an extra point, the fans directly in view of the player have a massive opportunity to distract the player, and of course they do so primarily at the expense of the visiting team.

Imagine if fans watching tennis or golf were allowed to behave like basketball fans. I say they should, frankly.