Testosterone linked to ‘home court advantage’

By Ryan Mulloy
April 18, 2002

The “home field” advantage, recently explained by scientists as a matter of increased testosterone, is being considered by many schools, including our very own campus. In a recent study, scientists in London have learned that the increased production of the hormone testosterone may very well affect the performances of athletes and the demeanor of the fans.

Doctors Sandy Wolfson and Nick Neave of University of Northumbria, in England, have conducted several tests to determine what makes testosterone so detrimental to the “home field” advantage. The tests were mainly conducted in England with the sport of football, known as soccer in the United States of America.

Up until now, the relationship between testosterone and this advantage has all been met with speculation and opinions from sports fans. For the NBA, the finals and where the games are played is essential for a team. Sometimes, they can affect their win/loss record, depending upon their performance. For instance, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, who played in last season’s finals, were very concerned with where the games were played. While the first game was played in Los Angeles with Philadelphia winning, the future home games were won in the favor of the Lakers.

The same behavior of players can be used to describe the fans of sports as well. The tests conducted involved the separation of several sports fans and the testing of their saliva. After the conclusion of the games, the saliva was tested. The tests proved that male fans intensity increased as their teams won and decreased dramatically when they lost. According to a study by Physiological Behavior in 1998, the test proved that depending upon wins or losses by one’s team, there are undoubtedly physiological consequences that go beyond mood and self-esteem.

The increase of the production of testosterone in very much linked to animal behavior, Neave stated in his report. “Like other animals who guard and protect their home territory, footballers may feel more energetic, activated and assertive when faced with threats from out-groups.”

Darwin’s theory of evolution contains the basic concept of survival of the fittest. This is also linked closely to athletic performance due to testosterone. Hand-in-hand with the notion of animalistic behavior, Neave also stated that the players are like the animals, “fighting for their territory because it means so much to their survival.”

While there is still some question as to how women react to being on their home field, there is at least some explanation for the behavior of male athletes, their performance and their fans. Testosterone studies continue to shed some light on the performance of athletes and take drive them even hard to their success in the home town setting.

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Ryan Mulloy

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