Mapping The NFL: Where Do Its Players Come From?

I stumbled upon an interesting data set that lists the home states of more than 20,000 NFL players in history. I wondered: Do some states send a disproportionate amount of players to the pros?

This map shows which mainland states produced the most NFL players. As one might expect, it looks like a population map. Texas and California, the nation’s two most-populous states, produced the most players — more than 2,000 apiece. Vermont, which trails only the District of Columbia and Wyoming in population as of the 2010 Census, produced the fewest players:

But the map changes when state population is figured in. This map shows the rate of NFL players based on the 2010 population. Louisiana and Mississippi, which rank 25th and 31st in population, respectively, send more players per-person to the NFL than other states:

Of course, I should have used the male population, but there’s only so much time in my lunch break — and the maps wouldn’t look significantly different.

11 thoughts on “Mapping The NFL: Where Do Its Players Come From?

  1. You made this during your lunch break?? I’d love to be able to make maps like this. Is there any free or relativey inexpensive software that you’d recommend for creating visualizations?

    • I made this map with ArcGIS, which is pricey but easy to use. You could make something similar with QGIS, which is free. For interactive maps you could use Google Fusion Tables or TileMill, both of which are awesome and free.

    • Well, California produces the most over all players by far, and that is definitely in Pac-12 country. You know, the conference that has owned the BIg-10 for the last 10 years. Never as much so as this year. An average Pac-12 team Cal, should have beat Ohio State in Columbus. Not to mention what happened the week before that to Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Illinois the week before.

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  3. Do you have the numbers break down by state of the top 15 states? I had a discussion with a bunch of guys last night about this topic. We figured that California and Texas where probably at the top of the heap, but who were the next 8 to 13 states. We had this one gentleman who keep insisting that Tennessee had the most, so having the numbers I am going to show these guys what the real numbers say.
    Thank you for your time.

  4. I looked at the the data set and there are many unknowns. However, I am sure it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the overall map(s)

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  6. Still, too skewed to Northern States. Talent has drifted more towards the South in recent years and population has increased in the South in recent years. So if you were to use historical data you might want to compare it to an earlier census. Either way, I’d say that currently this map would be skewed even more to the deep south than what you have here. I’m assuming this is where the players were born or went to high school, not where they went to college.

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