Home field disadvantage

February 2, 2004

The Super Bowl should be played at the home field of the division-winning team with the best record, not at a neutral site. Compare the crowd noise during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl with the crowd noise during a similarly close quarter in any of the earlier playoff games and you will hear the home-field crowd cheering louder and more enthusiastically, which adds needed energy and adds atmosphere to the theatrics of the game.

ESPN's Bill Simmons writes about the fan experience of going to the big game:

we were sitting close to midfield in the lowest section on Carolina's side, unequivocally the first time in my life where I had phenomenal seats for a football game ... except we were surrounded by Panthers fans and corporate yahoos.

Nobody made noise all game. It was like sitting in a noise vacuum, watching the game on the greatest HDTV plasma screen of all-time. The guy in front of me had his arm wrapped around his wife all game, like they were sitting at the opera. Every time we stood up on third down, somebody asked us to sit down. It was unbelievable. Has anyone ever sat at the 50-yard line and longed to be in crappier seats before?

Salon's King Kaufman also supports the home field Super Bowl concept. The NFL is transparent in showing its appreciation for expensive new stadiums over winning teams. Note that such stadiums are usually paid for at taxpayer's expense, for the team owner's benefit. Economist Andrew Zimbalist has studied the economic impact of professional sports and stadiums. See
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums (with Roger Noll).

As for the "it's too cold" rationale, Patriots fans flocked to Foxboro in zero-degree weather to watch the Pats defeat Tennessee in the playoffs and in a blizzard to watch the Pats defeat the Dolphins to win the division. Green Bay fans go to Lambeau no matter what the temperature to watch the Packers. And after this year, the NFL might want to see its half-time entertainment attired in parkas rather than more revealing outfits.

Since the NFL isn't likely to switch over to home-field advantage for the big game any time soon, we just have to hope for a team to make it to the Super Bowl in their home stadium. With the next Super Bowls to be played in Jacksonville, Detroit, Miami and Arizona, the chances are not looking all that good...

Posted by Andrew Raff at February 2, 2004 10:39 PM
Trackback URL for this entry: http://www.andrewraff.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1703