Not only just as a nation in general, but from a sports perspective we are in unprecedented times due to the pandemic of COVID-19. It's not clear what the demand for sports will look like on the other side of the curve of this issue.
But the elephant in the room is growing bigger and bigger. At what point will fans and league owners feel comfortable to move forward? Most importantly what would sports be like with no fans in the arenas?
While we've taken the first step to "flatten the curve" by staying home and social distancing. League owners are discussing continuing football games this coming fall without fans attending games.
As a bettor the question becomes.... how does this impact how lines are set and your strategy for betting on games.
Overall Impact of Fans on a Game
Fans have a significant impact in the outcome of a game, either for the home team and negatively against the away team. Crowd noise creates momentum when their cheering you on and can cause hysteria for the visiting team when communicating on the field.
As a general rule in football, home field accounts for at least 3 points for the home team when you're analyzing two rather equal teams. Aside from the away team breaking away from their normal routines and traditions. Crowd noise overall can completely disrupt a game plan for the away team.
All home fields and crowd noise impact isn't created equal. The home field advantage of the previous San Diego Chargers isn't the same as the home field of the Seattle Seahawks which has the daunting 12th man atmosphere.
A top-notch team visiting the Seahawks can be completely dismantled where a team on a losing streak can feel more confident when playing in sunny San Diego.
Teams fight all season for home field advantage to play in front of their home crowd for the playoffs in the NFL. College football teams flourish in front of their home crowds impacting primetime games leading to playoff positioning.
No Fans in the Stands Impact for Betting
Every serious handicapper that bets on football has a strategy or philosophy when betting on home games. Being that this is unchartered territory, we as bettors are working with some significant unknowns.
In a way bookmakers will have to set lines as if there is a bit of a neutral field effect. But then you still have the scenario where players are getting away from their normal surroundings and environments.
Where as a normal home field advantage would account for three (3) points, I could see bookmakers adjusting the line by 1.5 to 2 points. When you're handicapping a game you can focus more on the on-field activity as oppose to worrying about the crowd noise.
Overall, it's still a wait and see approach. We will have to see what the official ruling is with the various leagues. Is it truly no fans at all or will there be families, team personnel, and/or school officials allowed.
Either way, it's going to be different and unprecedented times for us all as bettors when it comes to wagering on football games with no crowd.
Not sure how long this approach will last before they allow fans back into the stadiums, but it will take some time to get use to.
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