While it's hard to imagine that referees are completely unbiased in the face of crazed home court fans, there is one type of "homer" officiating that I find particularly egregious but still happens all the time: the makeup call. Most makeup fouls are only called against the visiting team to compensate for a previous bad call and quiet the crowd.
Doug Thomas, Lancaster, Pa.
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I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the advantages afforded to the home team in sports (What's Really Behind Home Field Advantage? Jan. 17). However, after the examples of referee bias sunk in, I couldn't help but feel dejected. As a lifelong recreational athlete I've always found it difficult to stomach unfairness in the system. It can be a deflating lesson for young athletes to learn that all their dedication and hard work could be undermined by biases out of their control.
February 7, 2011
Wake Forest, N.C.
The "12th-man" effect on creating false-start penalties in favor of the home team has been documented frequently, most recently in the case of the Seahawks' average of just under three false-start penalties per game against the visiting team at Qwest Field. If 21% of the NBA's home edge is attributable to scheduling, then how much of the comparatively paltry NFL home field advantage can truly be attributed to fan noise rather than skewed officiating?
You guys overlooked one important fact regarding home field advantage in baseball. It's the only sport in which the rules favor the home team by giving them the last at bat.
Liberty Township, Ohio
Chris Mannix's sidebar on Bourré (SCORECARD, Jan. 17) was both interesting and surprising. I did not know the game was so popular in the NBA. As someone who has played Bourré for more than 55 years, I can attest to the game's volatility and ever-changing rules. The rules are so fickle, in fact, that they change depending on what city you live in. That's why it's always best to know whom you're playing with and to get every detail straight before the first card is dealt.
Mart J. Black, Houma, La.
Thanks to Austin Murphy for his great article on the Auburn-Oregon game (National Championship, Jan. 17). While I didn't get to see the actual game, reading Murphy's words gave me a vivid picture of its atmosphere and of all the high points that I missed on the field.
Andrew Raju, Stony Point, N.Y.
Congratulations to Auburn, the 2011 BCS champions. However, I refuse to call them national champions. As fans, we should be encouraging the formation of a true national championship to be played by all eligible teams from all conferences. Until then, teams like Auburn are simply champions representing the BCS organization, not college football as a whole.
John Schirack, Sandy, Utah
After reading your piece on Auburn's dramatic win, I kept thinking about how there is absolutely no chance of the BCS creating a college football playoff any time soon. With record television ratings and the intense media hoopla, the BCS really has no reason to change the current format.
Eric Larson, Brooklyn
Second Time Around
Phil Taylor's column on the Baseball Hall of Fame (POINT AFTER, Jan. 17) was spot-on. I think the first thing the Hall should do is eliminate the Veterans Committee. If a player can't get voted in during his initial 15 years of eligibility, why should he then get a second chance with the Veterans Committee?
Rocky Mount, N.C.
The misguided tendency to relax the standards of excellence in sports is an inevitable consequence of our society's habit of taking the same approach in life. People need to realize that when everybody is deemed special, nobody is special.
Jeff Baka, Sioux Falls, S.D.
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