Last Sunday was game day at RayJay and sadly, it was another loss. It was the second consecutive at home and the fourth overall going back to last season. In fact, it was the 15th loss in the last 18 games in that stadium. Of course the loss bothered me. They all do. But what bothered me even more, and what has really weighed heavily on me this week, was the overwhelming number of Broncos fans versus Bucs fans left in the stadium after the weather delay. About 75% of the fans left in there were cheering for Denver. Loudly. There was literally a sea of orange jerseys left in the stands! And not the awesome Bucco Bruce orange that we all know and love. Bronco orange. Dark, ugly, Bronco orange.
Now don’t get me wrong, I get why some people left. The Bucs were down 27-7 with about 6 minutes left and the weather was literally life threatening. The weather delay lasted about an hour. I know people have kids, babysitters, pets, jobs, school, etc. I get it. This article isn’t about the fans who left. It’s not even about the fans who stayed. It’s about attendance period. Which brings me to my original point. Is there an actual “home field advantage”? Is there really such a thing as “the 12th man” or is it just a sports myth? Does having a loud, full capacity stadium actually help home teams win more football games?
I’ve seen a number of postings on social media this week saying that if the Bucs would put a better product on the field, then maybe more people would spend the time and money to come out and support them. I can see that point of view. I get just as frustrated as any fan. Maybe even more so. But is the reverse statement true? If the Buccaneers had more crowd support during home games, would it or could it improve the production on the field? Let’s look at some numbers, shall we?
Our Buccaneers are the not so proud owners of the worst winning percentage in NFL history at only 32%, including a very embarrassing 45% home winning percentage. They have an all time record of 148-179-1 at home and haven’t had a winning record since the 2008 season. They’re 3-15 at home since 2013, including going 0-8 in 2014, with 11 straight losses in that stretch. In those three seasons, the attendance at Ray Jay averaged around 90% of the capacity. In comparison, the season that they won the Super Bowl, they were 7-2 at home with both losses by less than 10 points. The attendance average for that season was 100% of the capacity. See what I’m saying yet? If not, I’ll continue.
NFL teams that own 7 of the top 10 best home records (all over 65% winning percentage) all play in stadiums that boast 96% and above attendance averages. As a matter of fact, there are only three teams in the “Top 15 Toughest Stadiums to Play In” that have less than a 50% home winning percentage. Those teams are Oakland, Philadelphia and Chicago…all franchises with deeply entrenched and devoted fan bases. Still each one of those 15 stadiums have average attendances of between 96-107% of their capacity.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Well, those teams are winning and that’s why their attendance is so good!”. Right? But is that really the case? Which brings me back full circle to the question, What comes first, the chicken or the egg? No wait, that’s not it. What comes first, the fans or the wins? Honestly, with all of the research that I’ve done for this piece, I’m still no closer to an answer. There is an argument for both sides I suppose. What I do know is that this franchise has a responsibility to put a winning product on the field for it’s fans. But at the same time, we as fans also have a responsibility to cheer and support our team no matter what.
My opinion (and I can only speak for myself) is that I need to be a better fan for my team. In these two home losses this season, I will admit that I have not put forth my full 100% effort as a fan. Sitting down when I should’ve been standing. Not screaming my face off for the defense on third downs. Not even participating in the TAMPA…..BAY…..chants. I know, I suck. And I’m part of the problem. It’s time for me to be part of the solution!
So while the Buccaneers may owe me a better product on the field, I owe them a better fan in the stands. If you agree with me, then I hope that you join me in my attempt at being a better member of Bucs Nation. If you disagree, then that’s fine too. Maybe you feel like you’re doing your part already.
Would a louder, crazier “12th man” help this organization start winning some games in Raymond James? Probably. It couldn’t hurt to try it. The numbers don’t lie. But will we find out this season? Only we Tampa Bay fans can answer that question. I’m willing to step up my fan game to help the cause…..ARE YOU???
I’ll see you in the stadium and as always…..GO BUCS!!!