Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Home court advantage


Kansas had an amazing come-from-behind win on Sunday. With less than ten minutes to go, they were behind by 16 points. The lead disappeared and Kansas won the game, beating a good Oklahoma team.

The game was on Kansas' home court. Though I can't be sure, it seems likely that Kansas would have lost the game if it had been on Oklahoma's home court.

In a half an hour, Kansas will play another game. This time they play Nebraska. Kansas beat Nebraska in Kansas by a big margin earlier this season. But, that was in Kansas. Playing on Nebraska's home court means the game should be closer.

And, that raised a question...is there a home court advantage in orienteering?

It isn't exactly clear what a "home court" would be in orienteering. Is it a specific home map? Maybe it is maps "near" someone's home? Maybe it is a specific type of terrain?

What if I defined "home court" as home country? Then I could look at results and compare orienteers' results in their home country with results in other countries. That isn't exactly the same as the Kansas home court, but it would be pretty easy to look at and might be interesting.

So, I went to the IOF world rankings and spent a little time looking at results. I looked at just a couple of runners and reach a conclusion -- it'd be worth looking systematically and seeing if there was something interesting going on.

One thing I need to consider is that there should be (or maybe not?) a tendency for orienteers to have better results when they are in other countries. An orienteer is more likely to travel if they are in form. They're more likely to just show up and run, even if they aren't in form, if the race is convenient. On the other hand, maybe the travel and new environment is enough of a change, that orienteers will perform worse when they aren't on the "home court."

I suspect it is more interesting to look at orienteers who aren't at the absolute top. Rather than looking at the top ten best orienteers, I'd look at a random group of the top 100 or so.

I hope to spend some time looking at world rankings in the next few days. I'll report what I find.

posted by Michael | 5:59 PM


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