Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Team Quality and the Home Advantage

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Team Quality and the Home Advantage

Article excerpt

The home advantage in sports refers to the consistency with which home teams win over 50% of the games contested under a balanced home and away schedule (Courneya & Carron, 1992; Schwartz & Barsky, 1977). Research examining a wide range of amateur and professional sports has shown that home teams win anywhere from 53% to 70% of the time (see Courneya & Carron, 1992, for a review). Moreover, the home advantage has been shown to be stable within sports, consistent over time (Courneya & Carron, 1992), consistent at different levels of competition (i.e., college and professional, Rosenthal & Rubin, 1982), and shown to exist for women (Gayton, Mutrie, & Hearns, 1987) as well as men.

It is interesting to note that despite the theoretical attempts to explain the nature and causes of the home advantage phenomenon (Schwartz & Barsky, 1977; Courneya & Carton, 1992), how few studies have incorporated a systematic approach to its examination. With a few notable exceptions (Courneya & Carron, 1990; 1991; McGuire et. al., 1992), most of the research in this area has generally failed to isolate the effect of certain key variables on the home advantage (Courneya & Carron, 1992). One such variable likely to influence a home advantage is a team's history of performance (i.e., quality).

Schwartz and Barsky (1977) suggested that the magnitude of a home advantage would be expected to vary in accordance with the quality of the home team and its visiting opponents. In other words, a superior home team would be expected to win a higher percentage of games against inferior visiting teams, than against equally matched visitors. Also, a home team characterized as superior would be expected to defeat an inferior team by a larger margin than when defeating a comparably matched opponent. After looking at win-loss records from a single baseball season and a single hockey season, Schwartz and Barsky (1977) concluded that teams who are equally matched enjoy a similar home winning percentage. There was a difference, however, associated with mismatched teams. Teams described as superior (first place in their respective division) and those described as inferior (second in their respective division) did not experience the same home advantage when playing opponents of differing quality. A superior home team was found to have a higher home winning percentage against an inferior team than an inferior team playing at home against a visitor of higher quality. The conclusion was made that the "benefits of playing at home are exploited to the fullest degree by the already superior team" (Schwartz & Barsky, 1977, p. 648). A shortcoming of Schwartz and Barsky's approach to defining team quality, however, was that it was based on current status in the division. A reasonable question, therefore, is whether team quality was actually being operationalized or that the measure was merely capturing a particular team's success at a given point during the season. A better measure of quality would be one that determines a team's success over a longer period of time.

In a separate study considering the influence of team quality, Snyder and Purdy (1985) looked at a single year's worth of men's basketball data from the Mid-American Conference. Team quality was operationalized by dividing teams into one of two divisions based on their final standing at the conclusion of the season. The five teams who won more than half of their games were categorized as first division and the others as second division. The results indicated that superior and inferior teams enjoyed a home advantage when playing comparable opponents. However, the interaction of location and quality was especially beneficial for first division teams. Superior home teams won 84% of their games when matched with inferior teams, whereas inferior teams won only 40% of their home games against superior teams. Snyder and Purdy concluded that "the superiority of the visiting (i. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.