NFL Geography: Where Were Professional Football Players Born?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Sports


Are states proportionally represented on the historical list of National Football League players? That’s the question I had four years ago when I posted two simple state-by-state maps summarizing players’ birth places.

That post has been surprisingly popular, so I decided to remix the visualization a bit — replacing the old choropleth maps with tile grids.

The latter can do a better job representing shaded values — in this case, the number and rate of NFL players by state — because the geographic units are sized equally, despite their area.

The first map groups the total number of players by state. Not surprisingly, it resembles a population map. California and Texas — the nation’s most-populous states — have each sent 2,000 players to the league, more than anyone else. They are followed by New York, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania:

A better version of the map shows the rate of players, in this case the total per 100,000 adult males in each state. Here you see states in the Deep South and Rust Belt — also Nebraska? — fighting above their respective population weight in terms of NFL representation. D.C., which you can’t even see on an actual state-by-state map, tops the list, followed by Louisiana and Mississippi:

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