Something to Ponder While You're in a Thanksgiving Food Coma...


As Thanksgiving approaches, it's always a good thing to ponder what we give thanks for. For many, it always revolves around health, family, and financial stability. In the words of Adam Sandler, it may even just revolve around turkey and napping. But for those of us who set aside the turkey and all the fixings for a seat on the couch around 1 PM on Thanksgiving, we also give thanks for America's new favorite pastime----football. 


So you may be asking yourself, what does football have to do with geography? In the minds of some, while you may have to think outside the box a bit, football and geography possess similar spatial bonds. "Boundaries, delineation, demarcation, territorial control, spatial interaction, distance decay, etc. are essential elements of both", notes Dr. Ted Goudge, Associate Professor for the Department of Geography at Northwest Missouri State University. Dr. Ted Goudge has actually written a paper on this matter, noting how geography plays a huge role in college athletics; with a major focus on college football and the BCS. 


After spending this past weekend watching some of the undefeated teams go down, the rumor mill circulating around potential new additions to the Big Ten Conference, and the continued effort to put Alabama as the best team even though they have one loss, I couldn't help but think about college football and the way that it's constructed through geographical locations. Over the past decade, there has been a huge shift in the power of the conferences, specifically with the decline of the Big Ten and Big 12 and the rise of the "Almighty SEC". Not only have these powers shifted, but the conferences have began to merge as well. Besides making more revenue, these conferences are also creating a further reach for their conference and bringing in more and more fans and recruits into their conference. But how has this happened? Is there anyway to look at this from a geographical standpoint? Dr. Ted Goudge has created these two graphs depicting football from a geographical standpoint in the United States: 


For those who may be unaware of what the SEC stands for, it's the acronym for the Southeastern Conference. When looking at these two graphs, it becomes more than apparent why this conference has become the leader of the wolf-pack that is college football. While everyone may get a good giggle out of Tim Tebow crying, there's undoubtedly the best talent and overall and the best "blue chip" talent (which means that these athletes are 5 star recruits) in the states ranging from Texas to Florida. By analyzing this geographical data, we can see why these shifts in power have occurred and why teams such as Ohio State have remained dominant in an otherwise weak Big Ten (the state of Ohio has remained a dominant football talent pool). 

So while you don't typically fuse geography with football, enjoy this new insight as you enjoy the company of your family, enjoy some turkey with your gravy (yes I meant to say it like that), and most importantly----enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend full of football.

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The mission of the Maine Geographic Alliance is to expand and improve geographic education from Pre-Kindergarten through University by assisting educators with high-quality geographic materials, lessons, and workshops for implementing Maine's learning results. 



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