While it's hard to imagine that referees are completely unbiased in the face of crazed home court fans, there is one type of "homer" officiating that I find particularly egregious but still happens all the time: the makeup call. Most makeup fouls are only called against the visiting team to compensate for a previous bad call and quiet the crowd.
Doug Thomas, Lancaster, Pa.
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I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the advantages afforded to the home team in sports (What's Really Behind Home Field Advantage? Jan. 17). However, after the examples of referee bias sunk in, I couldn't help but feel dejected. As a lifelong recreational athlete I've always found it difficult to stomach unfairness in the system. It can be a deflating lesson for young athletes to learn that all their dedication and hard work could be undermined by biases out of their control.
Wake Forest, N.C.
The "12th-man" effect on creating false-start penalties in favor of the home team has been documented frequently, most recently in the case of the Seahawks' average of just under three false-start penalties per game against the visiting team at Qwest Field. If 21% of the NBA's home edge is attributable to scheduling, then how much of the comparatively paltry NFL home field advantage can truly be attributed to fan noise rather than skewed officiating?
You guys overlooked one important fact regarding home field advantage in baseball. It's the only sport in which the rules favor the home team by giving them the last at bat.