Martin Devlin: Home advantage is gone without crowds present

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Oct 2020, 1:20PM

Martin Devlin: Home advantage is gone without crowds present

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Oct 2020, 1:20PM

Bugger off Covid. We want our home advantage back.

The two biggest things missing from sport since the virus changed everything about everything are crowds and home advantage, one obviously very influential on the other.

I've watched a fair  amount of sport lately NBA, MLB, Premier League, Champions League, test rugby, Grand Slam tennis, Bathurst - if I said it was all work related would anyone believe me?

Point being that in most of the sports listed there you can't help but think how results, series, championships, outcomes might have been different if they'd had crowds 

present.

Home advantage is especially important in baseball. The home team ballpark isn't just any normal ballpark but one full of idiosyncrasies particular to only that park.

Football also loses so much in terms of having no home crowd influence, e.g. travelling to Turkey isn't nearly as intimidating knowing the stadium will be empty and they're not chanting "Welcome to Hell" for 90 non-stop minutes.

Even Bathurst seemed eerily quiet with no bogan hordes dominating the hill.

When PSG boss Thomas Tuchel was asked midweek about the significance of playing Man Utd again at the Parc des Princes he described the occasion as "sterile and lifeless".

Clearly, he wasn't meaning United's hideous new "zebra" away shirts, surely the ugliest jerseys ever seen in sport - but that's a story for another day.

This isn't the first time I've harped on about the global lack of crowds and the miserable effect it's having on all sport. And yes I know the circumstances in many countries remain prohibitive but, even so, it's something that need constant mentioning.

The novelty is wearing thin and we need to remind ourselves that this isn't the norm and we should never get too comfortable with it.

Fans are the butter to sport's bread. Quite simply you can't have one without the other, it's never the same and I won't ever be convinced otherwise.

Sport, to me, is the global barometer that post-covid life is returning to what it once was. Live events with crowds gathered feels, signals, implies and implores that we are back to normal. Whenever that happens and whatever the new normal now is.