Home Field Advantage

What do we want from our sports teams, wins or a show

My local baseball team had their last game at their ballpark this season. Next year the Rangers move into a huge indoor baseball stadium, and I’m furious.

Most fans are excited to have air conditioning while watching baseball games in the sweltering heat of Texas in August. It isn’t like this will be the first indoor stadium, they are all over the place. Houston’s Astrodome was the first of it’s kind but the Astro’s now play in Minute Maid Park, an indoor upgrade. The Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field which is a half indoor/half outdoor affair.

It’s not just baseball moving to comfort for their fans. The Minnesota Vikings moved to an indoor facility to protect their fans from the northern winters.

All of this make zero sense to me. Moving outdoor sporting events inside removes a major element of home field advantage. And as technology allows travel to become easier, without the elements is there even such a thing as home field advantage anymore?

Baseball parks are all created a little differently, some are hitters parks and some are pitchers parks. But the elements and the climate of your city are as much a part of home field advantage as any of that. And in sports like football it is even more so.

One of the great aspects of the Minnesota Vikings was forcing their opponents to come play them in December, when it is miserable and cold. LA Chargers can’t prepare for that. They have to just come and play and the advantage is completely with the team that lives there. Football has made its reputation on being about toughness and fighting the elements. So many of the iconic games of the last 100 years include snow, and snow drifts. But with the move inside we take away that toughness aspect that was the football player and the football fan.

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, right, kicks the tying point during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

In baseball the advantage of home field should be the same, though in the reverse weather. The Texas Rangers ought to want to make the Oakland A’s beat them in their 100 degree stadium when it matters at the end of the season. It is to the advantage of the home team. Yet with the shift of removing the elements from the equation it is a shift away from the mentality that winning is the main goal in sports.

The America’s sports industry is moving more and more away from competition being the reason we watch. It is choosing to be entertaining above all else. Fans don’t care about who wins or who is the best, they care about the drama and the entertainment value.

This isn’t just seen in the moving of stadiums that eliminate home field advantages but also in how our postseasons are run or how sports market themselves.

Baseball is a perfect example.

The Wild Card is nonsense. The baseball season is so long. SO. LONG. Teams play 170 games over the course of the Major League season. Yet somehow we don’t think we have figured out the better team and instead a 1-game winner-moves-on is supposed to tell us who is better? It is contrived drama.

Another example is the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Far too many mediocre teams are allowed into the Tournament. Teams that finish in the middle of their conference are allowed in and have made deep runs into March. Not because they earned a spot with their regular season play, but because it’s exciting to keep adding teams. And they do, every year there is a discussion of adding more teams to an already ridiculously crowded and unearned field.

College Football also cares more about entertainment than competition.

We have hashed this issue out at this post. But bottom line, college football is elitist and only cares about which big name programs make it into the College Football Playoff not about the team that has most earned a spot.

Case in point, Alabama can lose their conference and still earn a spot. How can a team be a National Champion when they aren’t a Conference Champion? Because Alabama is a more important name in entertainment than UCF.

The NBA shows its preference to showmanship versus quality of play in how they advertise and highlight their games. Whenever a NBA broadcast is going to commercial or filling time do they fill it with great plays? The answer is no. They show the reactions of basketball players after a good play. Celebrating is what the NBA highlights, not the amazing skills on the court of the basketball players.

So I am furious that the Rangers are leaving beautiful Globe Life Park for an indoor stadium. I enjoyed giving my team an advantage with the hot weather only Texas can provide. But since sports teams no longer make their decisions on competitive advantage but on entertainment, it’s not a surprise. If the Vikings can leave their snow, Texas can leave their summer. But I don’t have to be happy about it or the move away from trying to see who the best is in sport.

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