By Eric Adams
One of the most covenant positions in sports is what is called “home field advantage.” This is when a team plays in the stadium located in their home city. When a team has home field advantage they are allowed slight benefits that insiders to the game are aware of. Spectators and fans that view the sporting event do not see the true benefits of playing on one’s home field. They believe that the only advantage is that the team does not have to play on the road. The fact is it is much more than that. When a team plays in their own city they are not only in familiar terrain but they also are afforded other hidden benefits that give them a slight and often-decisive step over the visiting team. Although this advantage does not guarantee the home team a victory, it stills is an important edge. In contrast, the opponent will be taxed with mental and physical hurdles that often impede their success on the road. When all things are equal, this edge is often the margin of difference between who wins and who loses.
That is why it is rare that a team has a better winning record on the road than it does when playing at home. All one has to do is watch how a player performs and reacts on his home court and you will easily see that he feels at ease. The many factors that causes this relaxed atmosphere range from how the referees make favorable calls to the loud supportive noises that come from the spectators. All of these factors play on the psyche of the player and allows him to, perform with a higher level of confidence.
The only time the home teams field position becomes a disadvantage is when a player has never been accepted as a true member of the team. That player is often booed or treated as an outsider when he takes the court in his home city. He often finds himself treated as a person without a team and his game suffers from the poor treatment.
This home field concept can also be applied to other areas of life. The largest home field is one’s country. To an Australian, Australia is their home field. An Australian citizen would rather address legal or social issues while in Australia. They have a natural comfort zone in their home field of Australia.
With this concept in mind, we as African-Americans must always understand that America is the home field for white supremacy. Take note that I did not say for white people, I said for white supremacy. There are many whites in this country that have fair-minded ideologies that are not theoretically at home in America. Although their skin pigmentation allows them some comfort, their thought process puts them as outsiders.
For African-Americans, no matter how much we believe we are members of “Team America”, we only wear the uniform of citizenship. Our status will always be equal to the unpopular player that was never accepted by his teammates.
I do not bring out this observation to encourage African-Americans to adopt a defeatist attitude towards succeeding on “America’s home field.” My goal is to point out that if we are going to win in this sport called life, we must adjust our game plan to reflect that we are playing on someone else’s home court. Too often, we have embraced the belief that our economic or educational status gives us team membership, only to have this belief shattered once we made a mistake or carried out an incorrect act that our counterpart “teammates” would have gotten away with. Even when we don’t make an error, we are still reminded that we are not one of the acknowledged home team players.
The yellow-cab story that was relayed to me is an excellent example of this issue. Two men who are advertising executives each left their midtown offices to give a presentation to a multimillion dollar account. Each one of them stepped outside their office building to hail a yellow cab. The Caucasian male without thought catches the first empty cab that pulls up. In contrast, the African-American male spent several additional, irritated minutes waiting for a fair-minded yellow-cab driver to stop for him and take him to his destination. Whereas the Caucasian male is able to arrive in a peaceful state of mind and focus solely on his presentation, the African-American executive must refocus to his thought and demeanor. Although this small mishap is not enough to stop him from giving an excellent presentation, it does give an edge to the Caucasian male.
We can also see this “home team advantage” concept played out among our young people. Take the young African-American male from Brooklyn who was on his way to take his SAT. During the school year, he was stopped numerous times by the police because of the locks he wore in his hair. His patience reached a boiling point when he was stopped while on his way to take this highly stressful exam. When he raised his dissatisfaction about being harassed in this fashion, he was detained longer. He was final released and allowed to attend his exam. Arriving with a mentally disheveled state, he had to sit through the stressful exam and obtain a respectable score to gain entry in a good college. Although his negative encounter with the officer is not enough to have him fail the SAT, it was enough to give his counterpart the “home team player” an edge.
These two incidents are examples of what takes place every day across America in every form of our lives. The benefit of being America’s “home team player” can be viewed in areas such as the banks’ discriminating predatory lending practices in African-American communities, the lack of available seats in gifted schools for African-American pupils, lack of African-American firefighters in New York Fire Department, and many other denials.
It is this lack of access and refusal of status of “home field” rights that have regulated America’s African-American team members to the permanent status of being a visiting player on their own home field. In order to start winning more games, we have to adjust our style of play to reflect this sad reality.