Say the 2008 Beijing Olympics are in full swing, and Israeli judoka Arik Zeevi is in the finals. If he is able to, should he pick the white or the blue judo outfit?
According to commonly held belief, expounded by athletes, coaches, journalists and the crowds, contestants in blue tend to win more encounters then those in white. Blue is a much fiercer color, and it often makes a difference for contestants between winning and losing, they say.
But a study by researchers at Scotland's University of Glasgow has refuted this notion.
After analyzing the results of some 500 encounters at various levels of national and international competitions between 1996 and 2005, reseachers came to the conclusion that there is no correlation between the identity of the winner, and the color of the outfit.
"We focused on judo, but it is relevant to sports in general," Doctor Peter Dijkstra of the University of Glasgow said.
"There is no significance as to the identity of the winner."
In the past, research has shown that those garbed in white tend to lose more often.
People thought that the outline of the white outfit was easier to distinguish, making it easier for opponents to engage and topple them.
But the team of Glasgow researchers claim that in the early stages of the judo competitions, the stronger contestants would habitually choose to wear blue, tilting the odds against those wearing white outfits .
"That is why we focused on gold medal encounters only," head researcher Dijkstra explained to the Reuters news agency .
The findings could also help to ensure a more level playing field in other combat sports in which participants wore red - a color associated with dominance, fear and aggression that actually might confer an advantage, the researchers added.
"Our findings have implications for sports policy makers: They suggest that white-blue outfit pairing ensures an equal level of play," the researchers wrote in their study .
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