Socioeconomic Effects on High School Football

I received a thoughtful e-mail while I was first attempting to quantify whether private schools had an advantage over public schools regarding the computer ranking system. The e-mail basically asked whether there weren't more at play in predicting superior performance than simply the number of students and whether the school is public or private. The author of that e-mail postulated that socioeconomic factors and participation rates were also important factors.

I know of no way of obtaining information regarding participation rates in the schools, so I will have to limit this analysis to socioeconomic factors. At this time, I have chosen to represent socioeconomic factors in a very simplistic way: by using the median household income of the zip code in which the high school is located.

Also, although this study began as a result of the discussions surrounding the public/private debate, I can think of no way of attributing socioeconomic factors to the private schools (e.g. it makes no sense to use the zip code's median household income because students in the private school are probably not representative of the zip code population as a whole; and those students likely come from many distant zip codes.) Therefore, this study is limited to looking at how median household incomes predict football success for public schools. This won't necessarily help explain the difference (or existence of a difference) between public and private schools, but it will help frame the issue with an understanding of how socioeconomics affect performance generally.


Below is a map I created showing the location of Ohio high schools that take part in football (red dots) and the median household income of all the zip codes of the state (darker areas are poorer, lighter areas are wealthier as measured by median household income.)

If you would like to get a higher quality version of this map with the ability to zoom in, please download this file:
Ohio Football Socioeconomic Map


For preliminary results of the study, please click here: Preliminary Results

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