Home Court Advantage and Referee Bias: Evidence from NBA Games Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Pei-An Liao
Yun-Lin Zheng
Wen-Jhan Jane


In response to the heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission, the National Basketball Association (NBA) implemented a no-fans policy following months of suspending the 2019-20 season. This study aims to assess the impact of the no-fans policy on home court advantage and referee bias. Utilizing game-level data spanning from the 2015-16 to the 2020-21 seasons and leveraging the COVID-19 outbreak as a natural experiment, our findings indicate that both home and guest teams achieved higher scores in individual games after the implementation of the no-fans policy. However, home teams earned fewer points, implying that the absence of fans reduces home court advantage. Furthermore, in games played without an audience, referee bias decreases, while home teams' fouls increase. These results carry implications for understanding the influence of social pressure and crowds on the neutrality of decisions.

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How to Cite
Liao, P.-A. ., Zheng, Y.-L. ., & Jane, W.-J. (2023). Home Court Advantage and Referee Bias: Evidence from NBA Games Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Asian Journal of Applied Economics, 30(2), 120–140. Retrieved from https://so01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/AEJ/article/view/268619
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