Home field advantage is the result of one of three things:
1) The stadium itself has some physical property that makes it difficult to play in for opponents (ie- lower levels of oxygen in high altitude stadiums, the architecture of the stadium itself alters the environment of the playing field, etc.)
2) The fans themselves create a lot of noise and distractions for the opposing team
3) A combination of the two (the best option for a team)
As a fan there is only one thing you can really do to affect the outcome of the game. Well, that is unless you are an architect in charge of designing the stadium or have the moral fiber of Tonya Harding, but that is neither here nor there.
Most fans think that the best they can do at a game is to yell and cheer as loudly as possible. It’s a start, but it’s rookie level game affecting for the most part. Anybody can shout on third and long or during a 1 and 1, but to truly get into the other teams’ head, you need to do more than that. I have a few suggestions that could be tried, some of which I have seen myself, others that just make sense. It should be noted that these suggestions seem to lend themselves more to basketball games as the fans are much closer to the court, but with a little creativity could be applied to about any sport.
While a lot of noise could rattle a guy who is stepping to the line for some big free throws, at a point a player is just going to get used to the noise and it becomes the norm. I’ve been at a few small college games where the students get deathly silent when the other team goes to the line and then a few students start to shout out embarrassing or distracting things. Think about it, what is going to get your attention more? General loud noise where you can’t make out a word of it, or hearing one guy talk about how nervous you must be or reminding you that a miss loses the game? This obviously needs to be a coordinated effort and designating someone to be “that guy” needs to be thought out. First of all, he can’t be shy or choke in the big moment. He should also be clever and quick on his toes, because repetitive shouting of “you suck” would just be embarrassing. Ideally, this guy will do his homework before each game and find out a few things about each player, perhaps from Facebook, and use these at opportune times. Best option: find a guy half as great as this guy and you’re set. Worst option: someone with this level of creativity and grammar capabilities (I was actually at that game, that girl got heckled to no end).
Here are a couple visuals for you to see what a creative sign should and should not look like:
Another idea that would just take a director or two in the front row is getting the crowd to shift or move all at the same time, in the same way. Enough with those stupid little foam sticks waving in the background or smashing some thunder sticks together. Imagine if a student section was coordinated enough to sway one way as soon as a player started to draw back to release a shot? If your entire background frame of reference shifted, I don’t think I could stay standing let alone nail a free throw. It should be noted that this will likely take a sober student section (if there is such a thing) because this won’t work if some drunk guys have different ideas on what is left and right or have a three second delay on everything. I guarantee you that the people who put on this prank weren’t drunk. If you can somehow get the fans of the other team to insult yourself, you will be a legend on your campus for eternity.
A classic trick to pull at a basketball game is, when the opposing team has the ball and the clock is winding down (to the end of the half or the end of the shot clock), start they traditional countdown chant of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, but do so about ten seconds early. You may think that this wouldn’t work beyond junior high, but I’ve seen it happen in person at a college game. If you think in the pro’s a guy would never heave up a long shot early, ask Rudy Gay about it. I think the greatest reward for doing this isn’t to see the player’s look of embarrassment, but his coach’s. Typically a mixture of anger and disbelief, and if you’re lucky a tinge of laughter.
These are just a few of potentially many ideas on how fans, with a little creativity, coordination, or a guy in a Speedo can have an impact on the game. If you’ve seen or done some great things, let us know in the comments. Even better, if you have video or picture proof of said act, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and if it’s funny, we’ll try to post it for all to see.