NYT: Where athletes in the major sports come from, in 15 charts

From Gregor Aisch, Kevin Quealy, and Rory Smith at the New York Times on December 29, 2017, with mention of SABR members Mark Armour and Dan Levitt:

The trend is not new. For decades, top athletes have been lured across oceans and borders. Brazilian strikers. Croatian power forwards. Swedish defensemen. When leagues created rules to make such movement harder, laws were changed to make it easier. But, always, the players kept coming.

Next year, the world will continue to shrink for its most elite athletes. Leagues that once relied upon mainly domestic talent now scour the world for those men and women who can shoot a basketball, throw a curve or defend a goal better than anyone else.

The goal is to find the next Lionel Messi, the Argentine star who has played soccer in Spain since he was a boy; or another Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian-born big man for the Knicks; or someone like the Japanese double threat Shohei Ohtani, who captivated the baseball world this off-season as he weighed his landing spot in Major League Baseball (he settled on the Los Angeles Angels).

The charts below depict where players in 15 of the best-known leagues in the United States, Canada and Europe hail from. They also reveal how quickly football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer are changing.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/29/upshot/internationalization-of-pro-sports-leagues-premier-league.html

Originally published: January 4, 2018. Last Updated: January 4, 2018.