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How Do NFL Fans Really Affect Games?

The Power of NFL Fans

With the NFL being one of the biggest sports in the world, it is interesting to wonder how fans really affect the games. When thinking about sports, sports teams and their athletes are put to the test both physically and mentally. Could you imagine them playing with no fans in the stands? Studies have shown that fans can affect how the athlete approaches the game mentally, which in turn, impacts the overall quality of the game. The positive language, whether that is through chants or cheering, enables the players to feel motivated.

Read on to find out the effect fans have as they pile into NFL stadiums to see their favourite team play.


How Do Fans Affect the Game?

Dr Daniel Wann is a professor of psychology at Murray State University, with key experience in studying crowd psychology and sports behaviour. He has spent years studying the effect of the crowd cheering at NFL games. According to him, people cheer loudly at NFL games because they believe cheering can impact the game. To him, fans have two roles at a game, one supporting their home team and the other disrupting and unnerving the visiting team. For this amount of loud cheering to be sustained, it is clear that the NFL fans present have to truly care about the game in front of them. Dr Wann believes that cheering directly correlates with how much each fan personally connects to what is happening out on the field.

What is interesting is that a crowd can sometimes pump itself up without needing to be excited about something. Just a group of people getting over-excited can attract and inspire others around them to follow suit. According to Dr Wann, evidence supports the fact that a small group of fans can start something. Think about a game you’ve attended, and suddenly the Mexican wave starts. This is an example of how general crowd excitement catches on.


With all of this being said, it is clear that loud noises from the crowd can potentially interfere with games. For example, when a crowd starts to roar during a visiting team’s pre-game huddle or before a snap, this easily drowns out snap counts or play calls. This makes it extremely difficult for an offence to function in their plays. Back in 1989, the NFL adopted new rules that were in place to control crowd noise. This included eliminating video boards projecting messages that would hype the crowd up, such as ‘Pump It Up.’

The NFL then later revisited this when they realised that crowd noise brought atmosphere to the games, overweighting the impact on the actual game itself. To combat this, in 1994, in-helmet wireless headsets were added. This meant crowds were free to cheer as crazily as they liked and encourage their team, as the team could hear plays and instructions through their helmet.

One thing to note is that only the quarterback has access to a headset. So, thinking logically, with or without the addition of headsets for the quarterback – there are still 20 other men on the field. These men have to listen to the crowd and adapt to the noise. Does this actually help their performance in the end? Or does science show it doesn’t change anything?

We have the answer right here. For NFL fans who turn up to see their favourite team play and spend the entire game placing all their energy into cheering on their team, science tells us that it might not actually matter.

According to studies, science has shown that no matter how loud you are cheering, it does not make much of a difference to the overall outcome of the game. Don’t believe us? Similar studies were also carried out in the past for college football stadium games. The results were inconclusive. This means that the outcome of NFL sporting games remains and relies solely on the skills of the players on the field, not on the noise of the fans.

So, in other words – save your voice. Don’t get stressed out because your team winning or losing is totally out of your hands.