Travel and the Home Advantage in Professional Sports

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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That the home team wins more than half its games is well-established. One factor said to produce this home advantage is travel between venues, which is seen as disruptive for the visiting team. Unfortunately, the media and athletes have been more supportive of travel effects than the research literature. While players continue to speculate that travel matters, empirical results find little support for travel factors. In the present paper we demonstrate that, at least for some professional sports, team travel can exert a very small influence on the outcome of the contest even after the quality of the teams competing is controlled. We conclude, however, that the belief that some factors confer an advantage to the home team is more the product of social forces than the influence those factors regularly have on game outcomes.

D. Randall Smith is with the Department of Sociology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8045. The coauthors were undergraduates at Rutgers at the time this research was conducted.

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