Comparison of home advantage in college and professional team sports in the United States

Richard Pollard, Miguel-Ángel Gómez

Abstract


Home advantage in seven American college team sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and women’s basketball) was compared with professional leagues in the United States for the same sports and for the same time period. A total of 81,063 college games and 22,477 professional games were analyzed for the four seasons 2006-07 to 2009-10. There was a significant home advantage, as measured by home winning percentage, in all sports, both college and professional. The overall home advantage in college sports was significantly greater than in professional sports (p<0.015). The mean difference was 3.73 home winning percentage points, being greatest for baseball, basketball, and hockey (all p<0.001). Plausible explanations for these results include differences in college and professional competition in terms of familiarity with local conditions, referee bias, territoriality and psychological factors. However, the influence of travel fatigue was inconclusive. Only for soccer was the home advantage greater for professionals. This was the only sport where crowd size appeared to be having an effect. In addition the rules of college soccer allow more substitution and hence greater coach intervention than in professional soccer, a factor that could also be reducing home advantage. 

Keywords*


Home advantage, team sports, professional sports, college sports

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