Data can be beautiful. Upward trending profits, doubling your donut intake,  increased use of kleenex instead of a kid’s sleeve; each one tells a story. Then overlay that data with a map and suddenly you begin to see regional trends such as the combined donut intake and increased use of kleenex means  upward trending profits for stores in various locations that sell both these items. Pretty standard stuff.

Recently Techlife’s Facebook page shared one of these such maps titled “The United States of Football” by Jared Fanning as seen on  But of course in my brain there was something that clicked. I had seen this before. Where? The internet is after all a big place.  So I promptly forgot about it.

As I was preparing the new column I was reviewing an interesting site called The CommonCensus Map Project by Michael Baldwin. The approach this political scientist took was removing zip codes from the question of “Where do you live?” Michael instead attempts to understand “Where do you think you live?” Using the idea your community is not always your town’s name or zip code was the premise when the site started in 2005.

The CommonCensus Map Project starts with a simple survey of just a few questions. 61,000+ have since inception have participated. Michal admits the sample size is tiny compared to the people counted in the US Census. Admittedly he has partially moved on and the project isn’t up to date. But the maps are still interesting to look at and provide some interesting commentary on people’s state of mind. Notice how large the geographic region of living “near” Salt Lake City and Denver is compared with anywhere else.  How could you use the map?

After adding my own data to the map project I noticed there was a spin off project – The CommonCensus Sports Map Project. Had we found The United States of Football’s data source by accident?

Michael tells the story how The CommonCensus Sports Map Project blossomed from the initial project and shows sports fan affiliation by sport across the US. He started by focusing on NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA Football. The NFL has had more than 35,000 contributing fans, with MLB right behind. Following is a small drop to near 32,000 NCAA football fans contributing.  The NBA has had near 27,000 and the NHL just over 25,000 fans contributing their views on which teams they affiliate with based on location.

So for the first time we have The CommonCensus NFL Fan Map and the United States of Football Map. Readers you be the judge what say you?