Black Jerseys Lead To More Penalties For NHL Teams, Study Finds

Nine NHL teams have a black jersey as part of their uniform collection. Those nine teams may want to reconsider.

According to a new study brought to our attention by this NPR report, teams that wear black uniforms are penalized "significantly more" than teams in white or other-colored jerseys. The study analyzed 50,000 NHL games across a nearly 25-year span and found that teams wearing black uniforms were penalized about two minutes more per game on average.

That's quite the impressive find, but why is this happening?

The study didn't necessarily look into the "why" question, but the researchers have a few theories. We'll get your first thought out of the way, though: It's not a home vs. away thing, as the analysis spanned the 2003 NHL rule change that shifted the long-standing tradition of "home whites" to "road whites."

One intriguing theory: Black jerseys may simply stand out more easily on the white ice surface, which lead to more penalties because the officials just happen to see players committing infractions more easily. Another possibility? Officials simply associate the color black with bad things, and subconsciously blow the whistle more frequently against teams wearing the color. Via the NPR report:

"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 in an interview. "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."

We may not know exactly why this phenomenon occurs, but the data is pretty profound. If you're a fan of the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars or Carolina Hurricanes, you may want to start the petition to get rid of those black jerseys.

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