Homeland Insecurity

Updated: February 18, 2003, 1:58 PM ET
By Eddie Matz
Home, as it turns out, isn't always where the heart is. According to a recent study of 37 NBA, NHL and MLB franchises that moved into new stadiums between 1987 and 2001 (the NFL's short season provides insufficient data), home-field advantage weakens by 24% during a team's first season in its new digs. "That may only mean two or three games," says Cal Poly statistician Richard Pollard. "But that could be the difference between making the playoffs or not." Pollardwho has called England, Canada, Bulgaria, Fiji and Malawi homeblames unfamiliar surroundings for the early decrease in performance. Our panel of experts has its own ideas.

DAVID PARGMAN, Sports Psychology Emphasis Coordinator, Florida State: "New surroundings alter arousal mechanisms, thus inhibiting the emergence of athletic skills."

Eddie Matz

ESPN Senior Writer
Eddie Matz covers the Washington Nationals and the world of Major League Baseball for He's been writing for ESPN since 2002, and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.