Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Geography of Where American Olympic Athletes Live

The Atlantic has an article on the geography of hometowns and residences of Summer 2012 Olympic athletes.  The article is a good read but I was fascinated on the breakdown of where athletes currently live.  There are several cores but California seems to be the place where summer fun becomes summer sports gold (silver and bronze).



An excellent take away:

The map above takes a second cut, charting the metros where America’s Olympic competitors currently live. 

Los Angeles is again tops, but now it boasts an even greater concentration of athletes: 68 Olympians, 15 percent of the U.S. team, currently call it home. Nearby San Diego is second with 38 or 8.5 percent of Olympic athletes. Colorado Springs is third with 21 or 5 percent.  These athletes are clustered around Olympic training facilities in Chula Vista near San Diego and Colorado Springs.
Other metros with significant numbers of Olympians include: San Francisco with 19 or 4.3 percent; Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey (which includes Princeton) with 17 or 3.8 percent; and Oklahoma City, Austin, and Miami, each with with 13 or 2.9 percent. California boasts 146 Olympians – which would make it the 19th largest national Olympic team.

When we control for population, the Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey, metro comes out on top, with a whopping 4.7 Olympic athletes per 100,000 people. Colorado Springs (3.5) is second, followed by Athens, Georgia (2.3) and Eugene, Oregon (2.0). The predominance of college towns makes sense: many Olympians come from their programs and train at their facilities.

One thing that's notable is the pronounced clustering of athletes in individual sports. L.A., for example, is home to six of 10 beach volleyball players, with two more from nearby Santa Barbara and Oxnard. Nearly half of America's fencers (7 of 16) live in New York. More than three-quarters of female rowers - 16 out of 21 of them - live in a single city, Princeton, New Jersey, while a large number of their male counterparts live in Chula Vista and Oklahoma City. 

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that the U.S. gains advantage from its more decentralized system for identifying and developing young athletes. Still, America’s Olympic athletes do cluster, especially around training facilities and locational centers of excellence. Mirroring the talent clustering that defines so many other dimensions of economic and social life, they also gain from training with, competing against, and being around each other.

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