Durkheim’s discussion on ritual and Goffman’s theoretical work on first impressions are used to predict superior performance among home teams on opening day. Information on opening day game outcomes is compiled and compared with the results of regular season and championship play. The analysis reveals a greater home advantage for teams playing in opening day games than for home teams competing in regular season or championship games. When controlling for the effect of stadium attendance on the home advantage, the opening day home advantage exceeds that of championship competition. The results suggest that ritual activity and concerns for first impression management may be factors that condition home team performance, offering support for the assertion that performance is partly a social product. Further home advantage research can direct attention to cross-cultural differences in the opening day home advantage and focus on qualitative data collection to supplement the current abundance of archival data.
R.E. Ward, Jr. is with the Department of Sociology at Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242-0001. Part of this paper was presented at the Twelfth Annual Graduate Student Research Colloquium, April 8, 1997, Kent State University, Kent, OH.