Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home Field Advantage

The January 17, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated contains an interesting article, "What's Really Behind Home Field Advantage?" by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim.  It's an excerpt from the book "SCORECASTING: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won" by the same two authors.  The premises of the article are that
  • home field advantage is real (in most if not all sports);
  • its primary (sole?) cause is biased officiating (the bias likely being unconscious); and
  • the magnitude of the advantage is an increasing function of crowd size.
The article is something of a "meta-analysis".  The authors do no statistical research themselves, but rather cite a number of studies that consistently support those premises.

As a (non-rabid) sports fan, and having done a bit of low-level officiating myself, I found the conclusions interesting; but I mention it here because the studies it cites illustrate nicely how to do solid, persuasive statistical analysis using observational data.  It's a good example of what some of us are now calling "descriptive analytics" done right.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting article. I missed the article (which isn't available online), but it looks like it is an excerpt from an book called "Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won" (available next week). I will have to check it out.


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