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Will empty bleachers change the psychology of sport?

Just like the hair salons in Dallas and the coffee shops in Colorado, some professional sports leagues are reopening, albeit with a twist. The German Bundesliga soccer league kicks off in front of empty stadiums on Saturday, while this week’s U.S.-based major league soccer suggested moving all 26 teams to Orlando in June to play in a Disney World / ESPN sports complex that was both empty being empty as well will be televised.

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German teams were subjected to intensive corona virus tests before the start of this weekend. As a precaution, high fives, group hugs and celebrations after the gate are prohibited. But will the players protect themselves so well? Will referees be so close to follow the action or verbally warn players who break the rules?

“The situation is very strange and completely new for everyone involved,” says Alex Feuerherdt, sports journalist, referee coach, trainer and moderator of the podcast in Cologne Rules of the game. “I can imagine that both players and referees are insecure and inhibited, not only because there are no spectators, but also because of the hygiene rules. Maybe everyone will be more reserved. “

Sports teams have never played an entire season without fans, and this summer will be a fascinating time for people studying sports and how psychology affects athletic performance. In the few cases where fans have been excluded from stadiums in the past, the researchers found fewer referees’ penalties and fewer benefits for the home team. Over the years, researchers have documented a home advantage in basketball, soccer, and baseball. These results are mainly due to the fact that away teams have to deal with the tiredness of traveling, the insecurities when playing in an unknown field and the use of another changing room, as well as the impact of spectator noise on the referees, which tend to be associated with this with more fouls against visiting teams.

Mikel Priks, an economics professor at Stockholm University, reviewed 21 Italian football games played in 2007 that were empty. (Italian football officials had banned fans from the games after violence broke out between supporters of competing teams in Sicily, which resulted in the death of a police officer.) Pitkin found that the referees had a little breather without the boos. According to his study published in the journal, both teams committed the same number of fouls Business letters. “It was a natural experiment,” says Pitkin. “We have found that this affects the number of fouls, yellow and red cards, and we have decided that the referees and not the players are affected.”

But when the fans are on the sidelines, it is more difficult for referees to remain neutral. Another study of English and German football league matches in full stadiums found that referees have an unconscious tendency towards the home team. Robert Simmons and colleagues from the University of Lancaster examined the impact of home advantage on referees in the English Premier League and German Bundesliga over six seasons from 2001 to 2007. In a study conducted in the Journal of the Royal Statistical SocietyThey found that the referees gave visiting teams more yellow and red cards (given to players who had committed either serious or obvious fouls). This result was also true when the researchers took into account differences in the quality of the teams – that is, whether they were an outsider or a highly favored squad. In Germany, where some stadiums have careers that separate fans from the soccer field, Simmons also found that referees spent fewer fouls on visiting teams.

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