It’s well known by most punters and casual fans that playing at home in most sports (at least the ones I’m familiar with) offers the home team an advantage. In football this can be measured as 0.40 of a goal and in rugby and NFL the same principle can apply, but the question I’ve been asking myself recently is why does this bias exist?
Afterall, conditions in most sports remain similar; the playing area is the same size, there’s the same number of players on each side etc. The list goes on, so what ‘happens’ to these home teams when they play on territory familiar to them?
“One with passion is worth 40 without.” That’s a saying I first heard when I was a teenager and it must have hit a chord as it’s stayed with me ever since. I can’t help thinking this could be the vital here. Just in case I’ve lost a few of you, I’m not talking about Valentines Day, I’m suggesting that maybe home teams have a greater desire to do well at home whereas, perhaps after a long journey to a remote part of the globe this emotion may erode a little. They simply want it more. Could it be the buoyancy of the home fans? The confidence they bring? Or could the coaches/managers have more of an impact in this area than is at first obvious?
If I consider the names Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Stuart Lancaster and Warren Gatland I think of men who are highly regarded in their chosen field. Could it be that these men have encountered success from highlighting passion, and in turn desire and belief, as the key ingredient in moulding their teams? Furthermore, have they concentrated on transporting these feelings into the minds of their players when surroundings are unfamiliar? Their records speak for themselves and when you look at their policies on recruitment and selection it would seem a hunger to succeed from their players is an essential attribute. Yes, there will be other important factors but could this be the crucial one?
I can’t say for sure if this is their ‘secret’ but I’d be interested to hear your views on this topic, so feel free to post any comments below.
Elsewhere, this weekend sees the 3rd round of the 6 Nations kick off. England are looking strong although I don’t think they’re Grand Slam shoo-ins just yet. However, they are looking too good for France , especially at home at Twickenham. With this in mind I’m keen on England -7 @ 1,.91 on the handicap, as unless there’s a meteoric turnaround from Les Bleus this would seem within reach.