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Hockey, in map form

February 22nd, 2011

A few days ago, in celebration of hockey day, the New York Times hockey blog ran an article about where hockey was growing.

What caught my eye was the data included in the piece, apparently sourced from USA Hockey: the number of amateur hockey players (youth and adults) registered in each state as of 2009-2010.  I wasn’t surprised to discover that Minnesota has the most hockey players (53,450), but I was surprised to discover that Alaska has the highest number of players per capita (1.235%).

Seemed like something that was ripe for visualization.

I used the excellent MAPresso to generate cartograms of the data.  Cartograms, you might recall, show the areas of a map in proportion to some data variable.

In this first map, the larger the state is depicted, the higher the absolute number of hockey players (2009-2010 season):

State size as function of number of hockey players (2009-2010)

State size as function of number of hockey players (2009-2010)

As you might expect, there are far more hockey players in New England than there are in the Deep South, so it is shown proportionally larger.

(I feel compelled to point out that Hawaii is unfairly depicted here, since the only [yes, only] ice arena in Hawaii requires ISI membership instead of USA Hockey membership, and these data are based on USA Hockey membership numbers.)

We can also see the per-capita participation rate:

State size as function of hockey players per capita (2009-2010)

State size as function of hockey players per capita (2009-2010)

Notice how high the per-capita participation rates were for the Dakotas and the Rocky Mountain states.  At 0.709%, North Dakota is nearly at par with Minnesota’s 1.024%.

How does this relate to the trip?  Well, I had always expected that the South would be a hockey desert.  What I didn’t anticipate is that there would be places in the North, like Oregon, that also have a very small hockey footprint.

My hope is that, as a goalie, I’ll still be able to find plenty of games.  After all, there are only — ballpark — 47,000 other hockey goalies out there, and 430,000 skaters looking for targets to shoot at.

And that’s just the States.  According to a Canadian government report, over 550,000 Canadians play hockey, which translates into a per-capita participation rate of roughly 3.9%.  Lots of hockey!

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