What’s in a Game: the real home-field advantage

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There’s a primordial power at work on one’s home-field. 

Sports, as we know them today, are domesticated warfare. Our home field is our territory, and when Trinity University, Texas Lutheran University or Colorado College come, we declare war. We are defending our land; they are the invaders. And it is with this archaic impulse that the soccer game, basketball game, volleyball game or any other game begins. 

In all seriousness, studies have shown a clear advantage to playing on one’s home field. One study by University of Chicago Professor Tobias J. Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim showed that the winning rate of home games in U.S. soccer is over 69%, while NBA teams win over 62% of their home games. One Sports Illustrated article last year even suggested that the New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV because they competed in all of their playoff games at home. 

The University of Dallas has also experienced a remarkable home-field advantage as of late: men’s and women’s soccer both began their streak of home games with victories over Austin College. Women’s cross country won the home meet for the first time since 2013. Finally, Volleyball had a memorable victory over Century College at a home game last weekend. 

As part of that women’s cross country team, I experienced the power vested in our home fields. There was an energy that came not only from the immense amount of students there to support us, but also from the energy we had invested in those fields through our training. Every step of the race was a reminder of each interval, mile-repeat, or hundred-degree practice we had invested in those trails. I can only imagine that other UD athletes feel the same way about their own field, court or gym. 

The home-field advantage transcends the playing field. For example, this summer a friend described his experience of praying in a seminary chapel to me. After being overwhelmed with a kind of presence and power in his prayer, he shared his experience with the chaplain. 

“Have you ever considered,” the wise priest replied, “how soaked these walls are in prayer?” After decades of men praying in that space, the prayers of my friend joined that rich treasury of prayer and sacrifice.

In the same way, our home fields are vested with not only our work but also the sacrifice and work of the generations of players before us. The same is true of our library, the mall, the dining hall and the dorms: there is a transcendence of our effort and the effort of all of those who came before us. That’s our real home-field advantage. 

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