Sports Illustrated published an excerpt of Sportscasting by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim. The article was all about the myths and realities of home-field advantage. Apparently one of the causes is bias in officiating. When they looked at statistics related to team travel, fans' support affect on players, and player comfort related to familiar environs, they found all those things to be statistically irrelevant based on in-game performance of players (they actually found visiting quarterbacks to have a slight statistical advantage over home quarterbacks). What they did find was that umpires and referees are swayed by crowd reactions. In soccer they found, for instance, that when the home team is winning at the end of the game, the amount of extra time added is less, averaging 2 minutes, while when the home team is losing the extra time averages 4 minutes. The number of penalties and fouls also favors the home team. This is also true on the gridiron. And in baseball called strikes and balls also fall in favor of the home team.
While this probably isn't the only cause for home-field advantage, it does seem like a pretty important aspect of it.
An that's the interesting thing I read recently.
* * *
In restaurant news, we're working on developing a cashew-based mozzarella substitute. We're working from a recipe by Miyoko Schinner. So far we've found the recipe works in terms of flavor, but the consistency is much too soft. Agar agar seems fairly temperamental and it seems like we're going to try and replace it with Irish moss (a seaweed). Hopefully we'll figure it out in the next couple weeks and can replace the butter-y tasting Daiya cheese with something a little more satisfying.