Evaluation of crowd noise levels during college football games

Andrew Barnard, Scott Porter, Jason Bostron, Ryan Termeulen, Stephen Hambric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Crowd noise at sporting events is a highly publicized acoustic phenomenon in the mainstream media because it is widely believed to influence the game. However, very little rigorous scientific data exist on the topic. Perhaps the sport where crowd noise can have the biggest impact on the game outcome is American football. Football crowd noise can make it difficult for teams to communicate on the field and even induce penalties. In 2007 and 2009, researchers from Penn State University's Graduate Program in Acoustics measured crowd noise at three Penn State football home games. Noise generated by the crowd was rigorously quantified and synchronized to events during the game. Peak levels of 123-140 dB and max 10-second equivalent levels of 109-114 dB were recorded. Maximum possible communication distances were computed around the field using measured A-weighted equivalent sound pressure levels. Communication distances are shown to be limited to less than 3 meters on the field depending on which team (home or visitor) has the ball and the location on the field. The subjective loudness psychoacoustic metric, measured in sones, was used to show that the crowd noise experienced by the visiting team is subjectively 2-3 times louder than that experienced by the home team. This results in a distinct, measurable home field advantage. SPLs outside the stadium at distances of 200-800 m were shown to be 20-30 dB below SPLs inside the stadium. Recommendations are provided for other researchers who wish to make similar measurements for comparison to the results presented here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-680
Number of pages14
JournalNoise Control Engineering Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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