The recently published book Sportonomic$ by Gavin Newsham is the latest in a long line of subject areas seeking to harness the ‘onomics tag-line. Chapter 9, Red Is The Colour, is an examination of whether wearing specific colours, particularly red, increases the chances of success.
The theoretical underpinnings of this assumption are grounded in work conducted at the University of Cambridge where anthropologists have suggested red colouration in species in the natural world has indicated a degree of control or dominance over others. For example, African monkeys with red colouration are seen to have an advantage when it comes to mating.
Work has been conducted at the University of Durham, which suggests wearing red in closely contested combat sports such as boxing, wrestling, and taekwondo is an advantage. The same advantages have been found to exist in the top tier of English football from 1947 to 2003, with teams in red more likely to have a higher win percentage.
What surprises me about this work is that it is actually taken seriously. An examination of five different competitions, across various sports since 2000 fails to support the ‘red hypothesis’.
The All-Ireland Football and Hurling Finals are less supportive of the 'red hypothesis’. On seven occasions red been worn in Croke Park since 2000, four times in hurling and three times in football. The red team (in all instances Cork) have lost more times than they have won!
So the evidence does not support wearing red over any other colour. Although, try tell that to a Cardiff City fan who, despite protests, changed from blue to red in 2012 and were promptly promoted to the Premier League for the first time their history, having worn blue since 1910!