I am working on figuring out how to link to my source here – but it may be that there is no way to link to it online. The source is Sports Illustrated the magazine. (If I can figure out how to link to it, I’ll post it.) In the last issue, featuring Auburn’s victory, there is a great article that discusses the question of why home teams win such a disproportionate amount of games in all sports every year. The authors looked at win-loss records dating back many decades. The percentage of victories by the home team has remained alarmingly consistent. In the article, the authors mention several of the more popular reasons folks believe home teams win more, only to diminish them in favor of the ultimate reason: a Leslie Nielsen-like home-field bias by the officials.
Yes, lots of officiating decisions are difficult to evaluate because they tend to be subjective. One area the authors investigated was the less subjective role of soccer officials during injury time. Combing through piles of info, the authors discovered that soccer officials routinely shortened the stated injury time for home teams with the lead, while extending it if home teams were behind. Let me explain. A soccer game is generally 90 minutes, but often the game is extended for a few minutes because of injuries that took time out from the game. Most games are extended by 2-5 minutes or so. At the beginning of this “injury time”, a sign at half field clearly indicates exactly how much injury time will be played. But the officials are the only ones who keep the “official” time. What the authors discovered is that the officials blatantly shorten or lengthen the amount of time based on the circumstances facing the home team.
There is more evidence cited throughout for other sports too – but the bottom line is that the authors concluded that officiating is the number one factor when explaining why home teams have the advantage they do.
So Mike McCarthy should talk with the Packers before the game Sat and tell them to EXPECT some horrid calls and to expect a home field officiating bias and to expect having to play sometimes against 12, not 11. But if it gets out of control, McCarthy will also need to stand up for his team and let the refs hear it!