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A Natural Experiment to Determine the Crowd Effect Upon Home Court Advantage


  • Christopher J. Boudreaux
  • Shane D. Sanders
  • Bhavneet Walia


Spectator effects represent a central concept in (behavioral) sports economics. A thorough understanding of the phenomenon promises to further our understanding as to the nature of performance production under pressure. In traditional home advantage studies, it is difficult to isolate the net crowd effect upon relative team performance. In a typical sports setting, multiple factors change at once for a visiting team. Experimental evidence suggests that supportive crowds may hinder task performance. In that it serves as home stadium to two National Basketball Association teams, the Staples Center in Los Angeles offers a rare natural experiment through which to isolate the crowd effect upon competitive output. Each team possesses equivalent familiarity with built environment, and teams face similarly sparse travel demands prior to games between one another. However, the team designated as “home team†in a contest enjoys a largely sympathetic crowd due primarily to season ticket sales. Moreover, crowd effects are sizable in motivating a home team win, raising the likelihood of such an event by between an estimated 21 and 22.8 percentage points. The point estimate implies that essentially the entire home advantage between the two teams is attributable to the crowd effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Boudreaux & Shane D. Sanders & Bhavneet Walia, 2017. "A Natural Experiment to Determine the Crowd Effect Upon Home Court Advantage," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 18(7), pages 737-749, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:18:y:2017:i:7:p:737-749

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    Cited by:

    1. Seungwhan Chun & Sang Soo Park, 2019. "Home Advantage in Skeleton: Familiarity versus Crowd Support," Discussion Paper Series 1901, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
    2. Böheim, René & Grübl, Dominik & Lackner, Mario, 2019. "Choking under pressure – Evidence of the causal effect of audience size on performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 76-93.
    3. J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Echoes: what happens when football is played behind closed doors?," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-14, Department of Economics, Reading University.
    4. Massimiliano Ferraresi & Gianluca Gucciardi, 2020. "Team performance and audience: experimental evidence from the football sector," Working papers 94, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica.
    5. Carlos Alberto Belchior, 2020. "Fans and Match Results: Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Brazil," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 21(7), pages 663-687, October.
    6. J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Eliminating supportive crowds reduces referee bias," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-25, Department of Economics, Reading University.
    7. Michał Krawczyk & Paweł Strawiński, 2020. "Home advantage revisited. Did COVID level the playing fields?," Working Papers 2020-36, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.


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