Without fans, is there any home court advantage?

Packed stadium vs an empty one: does home-court advantage exist without fans?

Courtesy of Madeline Williamson

Packed stadium vs an empty one: does home-court advantage exist without fans?

The crowds roar, fans pound their feet to the grounds and scream. The game is close, and the home team is about to take the lead. A player sinks a three-pointer. The crowd goes wild. 

“The crowd goes wild.”  That’s something we used to say.  This year is mostly silent.

Covid-19 has taken over the sports world in more ways than one. Sports have been postponed and for some seasons even cancelled. FCPS allowed winter sports to proceed in December 2020.  Athletes were able to play, with masks. The season was shortened, and there was no audience allowed. 

Having fans at sporting events can help their teams. Fans can amp up a crowd and cheer on their friends and family who are playing. A crowd’s pressure can bring out the best and the worst in athletes. Having a crowd can even help guarantee a win. The pressure of the crowd can make opposing players buckle under the pressure. 

Home court advantage also applies to national sports leagues. NBA teams win around 56-58% of their games that are at home. In the playoffs, teams win an average of 65% of their home games.  

The Tribe hypes up a crowd

The Tribe, a group of senior boys who attend football and basketball games, is a tradition that many seniors and sports fans enjoy. This tradition, like others, has been temporarily discontinued. In terms of sports, many memorable aspects have been unable to be planned:  pre-game dinners, senior night celebrations, pep bands, and cheerleaders.  It’s depressing.

A home game was a big deal. No one wants to lose on the home court, and there are almost always more fans from the home team. Fans are always decked out in spirit wear and ready to cheer on their team. That’s the beauty of home court advantage.

With the loss of fans, is there such a thing as home court advantage? 

Winter sports outcome

Gabby Krystofiak is a senior on the varsity basketball team. 

Krystofiak said, “I personally like having fans in the gym while playing because it is a motivator to perform well and a way to show off our team’s skill to the public.”

The girls varsity basketball team had a season record of 4-2. All four of their wins were all home games, and the two losses were away games.

“The atmosphere while playing in our home gym is very comforting and easier to relax since we practice in that gym every day during the season,” Krystofiak said.

The boys varsity basketball team had a record of 5-0. They were still able to win, whether the game was home or away. Francisco Palacios is the starting point guard for the team. 

Palacios said, “Playing with fans is important to the game. The adrenaline it gives the players, coaches and refs can definitely change the outcome of the game.” 

Palacios agreed with Krystofiak that playing on the home court is more comfortable.

Who is on the sidelines?

Players and coaches may not be the only people affected by the absence of fans. Parents and family members weren’t able to cheer for their children and siblings in the stands.This was hard for parents of seniors who were unable to see their children play in what could be the last games of their careers. 

Linzee Morris is a senior on the girls varsity basketball team. Her mother, Kimberly Morris said, “This year has been full of many disappointments for parents and students. I am glad Linzee had the opportunity to still be able to play for her school team; however, I did not like the fact that parents were not allowed to watch the games in person.”

What are fall sports going to be like?

As of February 24, the students now practicing for fall competition are allowed to have two people attend per player

Head Coach of the varsity volleyball team, Andrea Poffinberger said, ”Games without fans can go either way. The quiet gym could be beneficial to those that get nervous with people coming. But I always like seeing students come out and have parents watch their kids”

Head Coach of the varsity football team, Rick Conner agrees with Poffinberger. “It will be different but I’ll take anything at this point. The bottom line is we get to practice together,” said Conner.