Mobility & Opportunity Trends in the National Football League by Playfair Data

In collaboration with the NFL's 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report, Playfair Data presents an analysis of occupational mobility patterns within the NFL. The annual study, now in its 10th year, delves into potential occupational access barriers faced by racially diverse head coaches, general managers, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, and primary team position coaches.

Developed by a team of analytics strategists, data engineers, dashboard architects, and UX/UI designers, this visualization results from an "all-hands-on-deck" effort by the Playfair Data team. Drawing on the expertise of our decision scientists and data engineers, we had the opportunity to integrate data from open sources, expanding the breadth of existing data and adding a layer of depth previously unavailable in prior reports. These visualizations span an unprecedented timeline for a project of this nature, covering data from 1993 to 2022, highlighting primary challenges faced by candidates of color in the NFL.

One aspect of the report we chose to highlight is the so-called "reshuffling effect" within the league, which is an observed phenomenon resulting in head coaches, coordinators, and key position coaches being moved around, limiting the opportunities for new, diverse talent to enter the candidate pipeline and advance to head coaching positions. This visualization sheds light on the recurrence of diverse hiring across professional football teams and examines the length of their employment. By examining the career trajectories of diverse hires, the dashboard provides valuable insights into the hiring patterns and retention rates for these crucial leadership positions.

This dashboard underscores an important message: sustainable change in diversity and inclusion will only happen when the selection process for head coaches, coordinators, and general managers becomes truly merit-based and as free from bias as possible. By providing an accessible and interactive platform, the visualization encourages users to explore and compare the career trajectories of various coaches, promoting awareness of hiring practices and their impact on diversity and inclusion within the NFL and American sports as a whole.

Through data visualization, Playfair Data and the NFL's 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report seek to drive conversations, promote transparency, and inspire data-informed actions to address occupational access barriers and foster greater mobility opportunities for diverse candidates within the league. By embracing data-driven insights, we can take meaningful steps toward creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all individuals pursuing careers in coaching and leadership roles.