Shout it Out!

Home team fans at college football games actually make a difference in the game's outcome, so get loud



Old Dominion University Football

College football season is upon us! Hallelujah! For fans like me, there’s no better time of the year than the first week of September, when our teams begin to play for collegiate pride against bitter rivals.

Last season, Old Dominion University’s football team made a deep run into the national playoffs of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), beginning with a first-round game at home against Norfolk State University. The atmosphere was electric, and ODU dominated in a 35–18 victory.

The home crowd came alive and was integral in the victory. Raucous home crowds make a big difference to the outcome of games—especially in college sports. But after the game, disgruntled fans wrote letters to the editor and called sports radio talk shows to accuse ODU fans of being unsportsmanlike. They made so much noise, it was said, that the opposing team’s players couldn’t hear audible signals from the coaches and the quarterback—and the offensive line couldn’t hear the snap count—causing false starts and other offensive miscues. It just wasn’t fair.

I am speaking to those people right now: Have you never heard of home field advantage? Of crowd noise? Of “The 12th Man”?