Advantages of a home game

Edgar Ayala – Sports Writer

In sports, playing at home can be a significant advantage over the opposing team. The psychological support from the fans, the comfort of being home rather than traveling and referees giving the home team the benefit of the doubt, can all be decisive factors.  

Due to this, the NBA, MLB and NHL playoff games have specific rules for determining what match is played where in a seven-game series. This results the final home game to be awarded to the team with the most success over the regular season.

Jacqueline Deens, senior forward on the Southern basketball team, said home court advantage “absolutely” plays a decisive role in the outcome of a game.  

“We practice every day in Moore Field House,” said Deens. “It becomes our second home, so we know the ins and outs. It’s more comfortable to be at a familiar place, and know that a majority of those that surround you are people who are there to support you.”

Deens also made note of the emotions she feels when she goes to a visiting team’s floor and hands them a loss. But she added that one must always defend home court and take advantage of playing in their backyard.  

“Winning on your home court is always special,” Deens said. “This is the place we work day in and day out, where we exert all our hard work and preparation. It’s our court, so you develop a sense of protection; you always want to protect what is yours.”

Although Deens said home-field advantage plays a key role in games, Southern’s head baseball coach, Tim Shea, thinks otherwise.  

Coach Shea said there’s a “slight” advantage at the college level when playing at home, but added that the biggest advantage is not having to travel.  

Shea noted the difficulties of schools’ traveling hours to a site they aren’t familiar with. For instance, Shea said the field itself may affect the team’s performance. This is if the team isn’t used to playing on certain types of surfaces, such as turf. He still reiterated his opinion on home-field advantage.  

“I’m not going to say that’s it’s a huge advantage,” Coach Shea said. “It’s not like major college where you have huge crowds that can turn a game with momentum.  Crowd is really not relevant [at our level]. We play in late March, early April it’s still so cold out that the only people that attend are the families of the players. So at our level it’s not a big advantage the traveling is the biggest thing.”

Despite Shea saying home field doesn’t play a huge role in their ballpark, he added that in professional sports, support and noise from the fans “definitely” plays a vital part in the game.  

“Crowd noise is really not relevant at our level, where we are, and at our competition,” Shea said. “That kind of pressure is not there, where professional athletes are custom to hearing 50,00 people yelling and screaming, you may tense up a little bit. So [crowd noise] may affect your at bat, and alter your success rate.”  

The pressure of people yelling and screaming is something Deens has learned to handle. She added that the people in attendance can make a difference when deciding the outcome of a game.  

“The fans definitely matter,” said Deens. “They can give us momentum and that extra boost of energy and confidence. The fans make you feel like you’re not alone, like it’s not just you battling on the court, but the whole school.”

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas 

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