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Thread: Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

  1. #1
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

    Hmmm...maybe the Reds should wear those red Sunday jerseys every game? Or is the red trim of their regular home uniforms enough to bring them a World Championship? Should they ditch the black in favor of red on the road? Or, a better question yet, is there enough red dye on the planet to overcome horrible pitching?

    (By the way, I wasn't sure which forum to put this in, but decided on this one because the topic covers all sports.)

    http://www.washingtonian.com/inwashi...nscolors2.html

    What Will Redskins’ True Colors Be in Tampa Bay?

    When the Redskins took the field just after 4 PM Sunday at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, it was no surprise that their uniforms didn’t match the team’s name. In fact, the team has suited up in white-on-white uniforms for the past five games, starting with their victory over the Rams in St. Louis on December 4. They haven’t lost since.

    Mere superstition, right? Maybe not. A given in competitive sports for centuries, superstition can do a lot for a player’s confidence (though it’s hard to imagine that, in the heat of battle, the Redskins are thinking about what color their pants are). But research by psychologists has found that the color of a team’s uniform can affect the outcome.

    A 1988 study by Cornell social psychologists Mark G. Frank and Thomas Gilovich, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that professional football and hockey teams wearing black uniforms were at a significant disadvantage when it came to the referees. As the paper states, “teams with black uniforms are overwhelmingly likely to rank near the top of their leagues in penalties.”

    Frank and Gilovich explored a number of explanations. In one experiment, seasoned high school and college referees were shown videos of two versions of an identical play, previously staged: one in which the defense was dressed in black and one in which it was dressed in white. (A control group saw both plays with the color turned down.) The refs were then asked to judge whether the defense had committed a penalty in a borderline situation. The experiment found that “the referees were more inclined to penalize the defensive team if they saw the black versions of the two plays.”

    The study does not address the inverse—whether white protects a team from penalties, and the psychologists also explore the possibility that wearing black encourages aggressive behavior.

    Since switching to all-white uniforms, the Redskins’ average penalties have dropped by a very small margin, from 6.8 per game to 6.6 per game, though the sample is too small to be significant.

    Gilovich, reached in his Cornell office this week, offers another insight on the subject. “Typically people engage in these superstitions to prevent themselves from losing, not allowing them to win,” he says. “Objectively it’s the same thing, but psychologically it’s very different.”

    That makes sense, as the team approached coach Joe Gibbs requesting the change to all-white uniforms after dropping three straight in November.

    But another study, published last May in Nature, has interesting news for the Redskins. In an analysis of contests in which teams were randomly assigned blue or red jerseys, the study concluded that “wearing red is consistently associated with a higher probability of winning.”

    That might be bad news for the Redskins: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably will suit up in red jerseys Saturday when Washington travels to Florida for the first round of the playoffs. The Redskins lost to Tampa in the regular season by a single point on a disputed game-ending conversion, giving the Buccaneers a better season record and home-field advantage in the playoffs, meaning they get their choice of uniform color.

    Redskins officials say the team will wear white again—assuming the Bucs don’t try a bit of psychological warfare and make a last-minute switch to white-on-white. But that would force the Redskins back into red. For them, it could be a win-win situation.
    Last edited by macro; 01-05-2006 at 04:44 PM.

    Help stamp out, eliminate, and do away with redundancy.

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  3. #2
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

    I believe that the Redskins initially started wearing white jerseys at home as a psychological ploy so the Cowboys would always have to wear their dreaded blue jerseys (which they rarely wore and hated) when playing in Washington.
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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC
    I believe that the Redskins initially started wearing white jerseys at home as a psychological ploy so the Cowboys would always have to wear their dreaded blue jerseys (which they rarely wore and hated) when playing in Washington.
    I believe you are correct. The Cowboys wore their blue jerseys at home through the 1970 season, but after they lost Super Bowl V as the "home team" to the Colts, 16-13, and then won Super Bowl VI as the "road team" over the Dolphins, 24-3, I think the Cowboys then adopted their white jerseys as home jerseys, prompting the Redskins to use their white jerseys when they played the Cowboys in Washington.
    I've always thought that the black jerseys fit both the Raiders and the Steelers, given their style of play over the years, especially in the 1970s.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

    I tend to think the color of the jersey has as much to do with performance as Junior's number (24, 30 or 3).... it means nothing.

    Good thing the Pirates don't look back and decide that the 1979 World Championship had a lot to do with their uniforms. I'd hate to see those things brought back.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  6. #5
    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Can the color of a team's uniforms affect the outcome of its games?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFanAlways1966
    I tend to think the color of the jersey has as much to do with performance as Junior's number (24, 30 or 3).... it means nothing.

    Good thing the Pirates don't look back and decide that the 1979 World Championship had a lot to do with their uniforms. I'd hate to see those things brought back.
    That's what Turn Back the Clock night is all about.

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