The New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of their series to move into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Both teams are among the most penalized in the entire league. But according to the latest research, they’d be spending much more time in the penalty box if they wore black jerseys.
According to a new study that’ll be published next month in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, NHL teams were assessed 10.2% more penalty minutes when they wore black jerseys.
“Teams that wore black jerseys were penalized more, significantly more, than teams wearing other colored jerseys,” said researcher Gregory Webster of the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Here are the key facts:
- Researchers examined 52,098 NHL games from 1984-2010.
- Teams racked up a total of 969,690 penalty minutes during those games.
- The average team was assessed 1,528 penalty minutes during seasons when they wore black jerseys and 1,386 penalty minutes in seasons when they wore other colored jerseys. That’s a 10.2% difference.
Webster said that teams that wore darker colored jerseys were penalized about two minutes more per game.
So how the heck does a black jersey impact the amount of time a player is in the penalty box? Here are the possibilities, according to the researchers:
- One possibility is that players wearing darker colored jerseys are more visible on the ice than players wearing white. That makes it easier for referees to spot fouls.
- A second possibility is that wearing dark colors somehow makes players more aggressive. That lands them in the penalty box more often.
- A third possibility, Webster said, is that players weren’t doing anything different, but that the referees had unconscious biases.
“There is this very strong cultural association that comes through in how we think about colors in terms of white being associated with good and black with bad,” Webster said. “Many of us are raised from childhood with some of these associations. And over time, we develop a kind of cognitive bias. That’s been shown time and time again in social psychology.”
Sounds like you can get away with committing lots of fouls, if you just wear white.