With six professional sports teams calling the mile-high city home, Denver, Colorado, is one of the most exciting cities in the United States for sports fans. While Colorado may be best known for skiing and its awe-inspiring scenery, locals know that the state’s sports culture is second to none. The Denver Broncos have won three Super Bowls and eight American Football Conference championships, and Denver’s other professional teams are hoping to follow in the Broncos footsteps.
One of the most interesting things about Denver sports is the home teams have a home-field advantage unlike any other—the city’s high altitude. This secret weapon allows them to outperform rivals during games on their home turf. In this article, we’ll tell you all about how this home-field advantage benefits local teams.
Denver’s rarefied air
Denver, sitting at an altitude of 5,280 ft, is known colloquially as the mile high city. For those of us used to living at or close to sea level, arriving in Denver is a shock to the system. Visitors can expect the thin mountain air to affect their ability to engage in physical activities. So, if you visit Denver, you don’t want to underestimate the impact its altitude may have on you. The good news is your body will adjust after a couple of days in the Rockies.
While it’s not difficult for tourists and other visitors to the city to get used to Denver’s high altitude, visiting sports teams often have a more challenging time. After all, they usually arrive the day of, or one day before, a sports game, and their bodies don’t have time to adapt to the high altitude. This places them at a disadvantage when competing against local teams.
Many Denver fans know about the home-field advantage the high-altitude gives their favorite teams. Local fans are passionate, and many place bets on the teams they think have the best chance of winning. Many sportsbooks offer free bets to new customers, allowing them to test their skills before making a more significant investment.
Denver fans are right about the advantage the altitude gives local teams, and there’s a study that backs it up. The Broncos, Nuggets, and Rockies were all ranked number one for home-field advantage, with the Avalanche coming in a bit lower on the list in seventh place among National Hockey League teams. The data speaks for itself; being based in Colorado is a significant advantage for sports teams.
How altitude affects the body
Playing a sport at the professional level will wear out even the best players. Playing a sport at a high altitude adds another stressor to the body. If players aren’t used to the altitude, it’s hard for them to compete effectively against a team that trains day in and day out in the mile-high city. Since Denver sits high above sea level, there’s less oxygen available for athletes to breathe in while they’re playing a game, making it harder for the lungs to pump oxygen into the bloodstream. The lack of oxygen has a cumulative effect, increasing players’ heart rates and making it difficult for them to breathe.
Teams that typically practice at sea level tire 20% faster and carry 10% less oxygen in their bodies when playing in Denver versus cities that sit at a lower altitude. Players find it more challenging to play an entire game under these conditions, giving Denver-based teams an advantage over their opponents. Since teams know how tough it is to play in Denver, they often arrive early in an attempt to acclimate themselves to the conditions. However, it’s usually not enough to overcome the significant advantage of athletes who train in the city.
From basketball and baseball to football and hockey, overcoming the home-field advantage of Denver-based teams is a challenge. So, the next time your favorite team is facing off against one of Denver’s sports teams, cut them some slack if they lose. They probably didn’t have enough time to adjust to the altitude.