Tag Archive: crowd noise

A natural experiment on home field advantage

Photo credit: Robert Britt licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I have written about “experiments of nature” or “natural experiments” before. These events occur when something happens to set up an experimental situation that scientists would never be able to accomplish in other situations. The return of professional sports may provide such an experiment of nature.

Statistical analysis shows that there is a home field or home court advantage in baseball, football, and basketball. In major league baseball, during the 2018 season the home teams won 52.6% of games. This ratio of 53% wins at home and 47% wins on the road has held steady since 1945 according to Baseball Reference.

In professional football, from 1993 to 2012, home teams won just under 60% of games. Lineups.com reports that the home team wins by an average 3 point margin, 55-60% of the time.

In professional basketball, during the 2018-2019 season, home teams won an astounding 71 % of games. The average from 1998-2008 was 60.6% according to BleacherReport.com.

One of the factors thought to play a role in the home field advantage is crowd noise. The home crowd’s noise encourages the home team, and when the crowd makes noise to annoy a batter or interfere with the visiting football team hearing the quarterback signal calling, that has an impact too.

But as professional sports resume play without any fans in the stadium or arena, there is no home crowd to make noise.

The NBA season is being played in Disney World for now, so that’s a different sort of natural experiment. But baseball and football will be played in the usual venues.

At the end of the different sports’ seasons, we might be able to gain some insight into whether it’s crowd noise or something else that provides the home field advantage.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Stadium noise is still a problem

Phto credit: David Reber licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This article predicted that crowd noise in Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, would be a problem for the visiting New England Patriots. Arrowhead Stadium is where the Guinness world record stadium noise of 142.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) was recorded. That exceeds the OSHA maximum permissible exposure level for occupational noise.

Well, it was noisy, but the Patriots won in overtime and will be in the Super Bowl. And in New Orleans, the visiting Los Angeles Rams quieted the noisy New Orleans Saints crowd, also by winning in overtime, setting a matchup with the Patriots.

I hope those attending the few remaining football games–the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl are the only professional games until August–wear hearing protection. Because any temporary symptoms of ringing in the ears or muffling of sound indicate that permanent auditory damage has occurred, presaging noise-induced hearing loss.

There’s no cure for hearing loss, which makes government inaction in the face of intentionally loud noise particularly galling. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable, and to not get it, we simply have to avoid loud noise or wear hearing protection.

So if you are headed to the few remaining games, bring your earplugs–because if it sounds too loud, it IS too loud!

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Time to paint your face and get ready to have your eardrums blasted:

Crowd noise to be cranked up during Ohio State football practices to prepare for road game. The Columbus Dispatch reports:

Ohio State will be going on the road for the first time this season — against No. 14 Oklahoma — with a lineup loaded with players who have never experienced a hostile crowd.

“It’s a concern,” coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll pump crowd noise in like we normally do. This will probably be one of the loudest stadiums in the country.”

Coach Meyer isn’t bragging about having one of the loudest stadiums in the country, he’s just making a statement of fact.  But the fact that he doesn’t express any concern about the noise level at games–except for whether his players will be able to hear calls–is disturbing.  As is his response to stadium noise: blast crowd noise at his players during practice so they can become acclimated to it.   At what point are coaches, universities, and team owners going to acknowledge that stadium noise is dangerous to hearing?  After an epidemic of hearing loss, tinnitus, or hyperacusis?

Note to attendees: the face paint can be removed, but that ringing in your ears that “went away” after a few hours (or days), that’s a different story.  So if you are going to the game, read up about hidden hearing loss and protect yourself.  Bring ear plugs and leave with your hearing intact.

You’re welcome!