Geography Education
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Geography Education
Geography Education
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography students and teachers.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Geography of Sports League Alignment

Geography of Sports League Alignment | Geography Education |
The NBA has the cleanest map of all the sports leagues.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Sports league have historically used geographic references to describe their league, conference or divisions (This was just one of the many reasons I was so appalled that San Diego State was going to join the Big East.  Thankfully that plan was stymied).  To have successful rivalries, teams often play up local proximity of fan bases (Yankees/Red Sox, Duke/North Carolina, Michigan/Ohio State) to add intensity to the on-field action.  Given that teams and fans travel, the logistics make regionally based division economically prudent.  This map (and the full set of major professional leagues in North America) shows that the NBA has the most geographically consistent divisions.   

Tags: sport, mapping, regions.

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More than a club: FC Barcelona and Catalonia's road to independence

"As Catalonia goes to the polls, Sid Lowe looks at one of the region's great cultural sporting icons and its role in Catalan identity..."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Sports and cultural identity of a region are often intertwined. As Catalonia is poised to break from Spain, this video shows how the local teams (especially FC Barcelona) are at the center of political identity and part of the very fabric of the political movement that is pushing for independence.  For more, see this recent Geography in the News article.

Tags: sport, Spain, Europe, devolution, autonomy.

Jessica Martel's curator insight, April 28, 2013 1:37 PM

its understood that catalonie has a completely different country from the rest of spain. In fact many people associate catalonia as a seperate country. It would be cool to see spain let them have thier independence. However that would mean spain would lose land and money. For the most part, atleast the catalonia poeple are expressing thier feelings and wishes in a humane manor, rather than with vilolence

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Pigskin Geography

Pigskin Geography | Geography Education |
Pigskin Geography is a 17-week program that motivates students to learn United States geography by tracking the travels of competing professional football teams with the NFL schedule.

Pigskin Geography is an incredibly dynamic way to teach the geography of the United States. Specifically tailored for 4-6 grade students, this program gives students a series of 17 weekly activities that are adapted to the NFL schedule that week. These questions do NOT rely on football knowledge, but uses this as an opportunity to introduce vocabulary teams, and explore other places. For example: “This week the New Orleans Saints will ‘march’ over Cairo, IL, going to their game in Green Bay, WI. Locate Cairo at the southern end of the Illinois. Cairo is located at the CONFLUENCE of the _______ River and the _________________River.”

Tags: USA, sport, K12, geography, GeographyEducation, training.

Christopher John's curator insight, April 23, 11:14 AM

Football Stuff for Geography

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Not all Olympic champions stand on the podium

Not all Olympic champions stand on the podium | Geography Education |
Tahmina Kohistani’s Olympics lasted exactly 14 and 42/100ths of a second.


This is a great article that highlights the Olympic successes that are underreported.  Due to geographic circumstances, simply competing is a remarkable accomplishment.  The women participants from Afghanistan and Iran are highlighted in this article. 

lelapin's comment, August 11, 2012 10:27 AM
great article indeed. Thanks for turning the spotlight away from the podium, for a change.
Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 2, 2013 9:41 AM

The olympic games have become only about the podium winners in the media, if you dont win you dont matter. Tahmina Kohistani was the only female athlete from Afghanistan to compete in the games back in 2012. It is an amazing feat in itself that a female from Afghanistan even managed to get to the games never mind partacipate. She didnt win, she finished last, but it was her personal best time and the fastest she had ever run the 100 meter. But because she was not up on that podium none of that matter and many people did not even know she had run the race.  

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Spatial Olympics

Spatial Olympics | Geography Education |

The "Spatial" Olympics is an interactive map that displays the running medal count for the 2012 London Games.  The above map shows a map of the Gold Medal count (as of today and with a limited spatial extent).  Enjoy the Games! 

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London vs. The City of London

London and the City of London are the same political and territorial entity right? Of course not. Why have something simple when we can have a rich archaic legacy with a fascinating (albeit convoluted) history. Here’s a great political geography lesson just in time for the Olympic Ceremonies.

Maddy Van Fossen's comment, September 3, 2012 11:28 AM
This video is short but gives lots of information. I found this video very interesting and I never knew there was a difference between the two cities. It's also very interesting that the two cities were formed at different times. Also, the way that Westminister grew around the city of london is cool, but the way the name Westminister changed to London is still confusing to me.
David Sanchez's comment, September 5, 2012 5:17 PM
I think that it's amazing that the City of London is still rich and powerful even after having been founded a few thousand years ago.
Valentia Pollard's comment, September 8, 2012 8:02 AM
I always thought that London was the same thing as the City of London. The only thing that they really have to do due with each other is the City of London is surrounded by London. Its cool that the City of London is still rich and powerful, they have their own flag, and even their own mayor. I think the City of London should be more important than it seems.
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Amazing animated infographic look at various world stats

Amazing animated infographic look at various world stats | Geography Education |
Amazing animated infographic look at various world statistics in Oceania vs. Europe vs. America vs. Africa vs. Asia, from population to homicides to number of billionaires – a fine example of how to...


The video doesn't have captions to denote which continent is which, otherwise this is an excellent data visualization of global and regional differences, using the theme of the Olympics as it's symbolic motif. 

Abby Budorick's comment, September 2, 2012 9:14 AM
This is such a cool idea. I love how they used olympic rings to represent the different continents. I just wished they would've put which rings represented which continents during the whole video because it was kind of confusing. Also, I don't think they should've combined the Americas because I think they are so different and the stats would probably be very different.
Bradford Baumstark's comment, September 2, 2012 2:44 PM
The idea hat they had for this video was very interesting but it was also very confusing because they didn't tell us which color was which continent. The concted words at the beginig confused me a bit too because I'm not sure where Oceania even is.
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Environmental Influences of Skating

"Dogtown and Z-Boys: A documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team."


Popular culture is shaped by taste-makers, counter-cultural movements, and the blending of cultural practices in new ways creating a distinct aesthetic. Often, the physical geography of a region plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural practices particular to their environment. All of that can be seen quite vividly in the colorful skating revolution of the 1970s that took shape in the Southern California. Kids who grew up idolizing surfers branched out their recreational habits into the modern form of skating that we see today at the X Games. Made legendary through a series of Skateboarder magazine articles (accessible online here: ), these kids shaped the cultural ethos of skateboarding for over a generation. With the coastal influence of surfing, the socioeconomics of a seaside slum, it’s abandoned piers, the ubiquity of cement and asphalt in the urban landscape, the run-down neighborhood of “Dogtown” was home to cultural movement. The fierce droughts of the 1970 meant abandoned swimming pools; that drought led surfers to the technological infrastructure for modern skating ramps and half pipes as they skated in emptied swimming pools. As stated in those Skaterboarder articles, "two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential." The documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and the fictionalized “Lords of Dogtown,” both produced by skater turned filmmaker Stacy Peralta, chronicle the age (“Lords of Dogtown” is probably not appropriate for the classroom).  The Video has been removed from YouTube, but the first part is viewable here:

Don Brown Jr's comment, July 11, 2012 6:27 PM
This is definitely a great example of how environmental factors both physical and social economic can influence culture, especially leisure or recreation activities. It makes me think about what other sports around the globe also own their success or failure to their surroundings. American football for example is almost exclusive to this country partly because it is so expensive to facilitate. Yet in soccer, all you need is a ball and perhaps this is why it is the most popular sport on the planet.
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Cultural Norms: Swimming after breast removal

Cultural Norms: Swimming after breast removal | Geography Education |
Rick Reilly tells the story of a woman's efforts to swim topless after a double mastectomy.


We have deeply ingrained social norms about what is and is not acceptable within public spaces.  Certain cases come along that show that these norms often treat the world as though it is black and white without varying shades of gray.  In this case, a woman who has had both of her breasts completely removed after breast cancer, discovered that conventional swimsuits physically pained her and she wanted to swim topless in a public pool.  Controversy predictably ensued.  What do you think?  Big deal?  Non-issue?  Acceptable in public or not?  Why? 

JKingston's curator insight, October 6, 2013 2:49 PM

Big idea - physical

Most relevant essential concepts - gender, technology


Relevant Year 12  Topics

Continuity & Change

Belief systems

Equality & Difference

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Saudi women allowed into Olympics

Saudi women allowed into Olympics | Geography Education |

"Saudi Arabia is to allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time ever, a statement by the country's London embassy says."  In what is viewed as sensitive 'baby steps' towards inclusion for women in activities most in the West take for granted, females will be competing for the Saudi Olympic team in London, something that has been forbidden until very recently.  Allowing their participation also alleviates pressure from the entire team being disqualified due to gender discrimination.  (Apparently they can ride horses - will driving automobiles be far behind?) 

Rj Ocampo's comment, August 26, 2012 3:14 PM
I believe its amazing to see women from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Olympics. It gives them a chance to take a huge role in their society and may increase their chances of getting more rights in the future.
Audrey Williamson's comment, August 27, 2012 4:51 PM
i think it is great that Saudi Arabia is now letting women compete in the Olympics, it is a small step, but hopefully in the future it will be a gateway to much more freedom for the women.
Haley Wayland's comment, September 2, 2012 9:35 PM
I think it is amazing that Saudi Arabia allowed women to compete in the Olympics. It may just be a small step, but it may open a huge range of opportunities for the Saudi Arabia women. Hopefully, as time progresses, they will be able to have as much freedom as women here, in the United States, do.
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London 2012: Where's the lasting economic legacy?

London 2012: Where's the lasting economic legacy? | Geography Education |
More than 75,000 firms that have helped to deliver London's Olympic Games are fighting a 12-year gagging order preventing them from talking about the work they have done, it emerged last night.


London has undergone important urban projects that have transformed the numerous parts of the city.  These massive investments are now being questioned as some observers are skeptical as to whether or not their will be an adequate return on investment. 

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Olympics: people in numbers

Olympics: people in numbers | Geography Education |
BBC News takes a look at who makes up the cast of thousands behind the sporting event of the year.


The Olympics are a massive undertaking with both local and international impacts. 

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The Ethiopian town that's home to the world's greatest runners

The Ethiopian town that's home to the world's greatest runners | Geography Education |
What do Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Derartu Tulu and Fatuma Roba have in common, apart from being Olympic gold medallists?


What is it about this place that has produced so many world- class runners?   This is a great profile of the "Town of Runners."

Seth Dixon's comment, April 12, 2012 7:53 PM
And I was feeling proud of my 7.8 mile run today.
Matt Mallinson's comment, November 5, 2012 11:50 AM
It's amazing to me that some of the world's fastest runners come from such a poor place and a very misunderstood place. Good for them.
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Perception and Place

Perception and Place | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

50% yes, 50% no.  The raw statistics would tell you that the country is perfectly divided on this question of whether or not the University of Alabama has the greatest college football program of all time.  Not surprising to geographers, in evenly split polls, elections, or other data results, there are oftentimes strong regional factors that influence variation in the data (in this case, local allegiances, media bias and general sport fanaticism).  

Questions to Ponder:  Alabama's voting pattern is obvious, what explains for some of the other poll results from particular states?  Why is there a general East/West divide on this question?  What are the regional factors that influence the voting patterns?  Would the result be different on 6 months from now?

Tags: sport, statistics, mapping, regions.

Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks's curator insight, January 8, 2013 7:10 PM

50% yes, 50% no.  The raw statistics would tell you that the country is perfectly divided on this question of whether or not the University of Alabama has the greatest college football program of all time.  Not surprising to geographers, in evenly split polls, elections, or other data results, there are oftentimes strong regional factors that influence variation in the data (in this case, local allegiances, media bias and general sport fanaticism).  


Questions to Ponder:  Alabama's voting pattern is obvious, what explains for some of the other poll results from particular states?  Why is there a general East/West divide on this question?  What are the regional factors that influence the voting patterns?  Would the result be different on 6 months from now?


Tags: sport, statistics, mapping, regions.

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2014 World Cup: Will Brazil Be Ready?

ESPN Video: With the FIFA World Cup two years away, will Brazil be ready to host soccers premiere event?

This short sports documentary (12 minutes) looks at some of the socioeconomic and urban planning issues that are a part of the logistics for a country to prepare for a sporting event on the magnitude of the World Cup.  The discussion of demolitions in the favelas (squatter settlements) is especially intriguing.  Major sporting events of this magnitude that last for two weeks can reshape local geographic patterns for decades.  

Tags: sport, Brazil, planning, squatter.

Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 1, 2013 2:11 PM

I know my soccer, and I know Brazil knows its soccer considering the country has one of the richest histories in the world.  The nation eats, sleeps, and breathes the beautiful game and to host a World Cup right now is immaculate timing.  Some of the best players (possibly ever) in the world would be playing next year, all from star-studded nations.  The forecast for this spectacle will surely be one of the best in history, but that's if it all goes to plan.  There's been many videos and articles of Brazil coming into more problems than solutions.  Repairing and even building new stadiums have set back schedules and have even angered many locals.  In some cities, there have been cases of gentrification, places such as favelas have fell victim.  Being such a passionate fan of the sport, it's almost upsetting that all of these people are being misplaced to house the tournament which has been anxiously waited on since 2010.  The main picture says it all with the three hands covered in blood...  A nation which cares so much about a sport, where it is a way of life and prosperity, is in fact doing more harm than good in some areas.  In the end I hope Brazil can get back on schedule, and leave as little people harmed in the process so the world can enjoy one of the greatest sporting events come summer of 2014.

Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 18, 2013 9:16 PM

The World Cup is getting closer and all eyes are on Brazil. The Favelas are seeing the worst of it. To improve their country for it's soon to be influx of tourists, the Favelas are going through practically forced renovations. Not to mention safety hazards in Brazil are being pushed to the limits with the building anf remidelling of the soccer stadiums. Just last month 2 construction workers part of the rebuilding were killed by an accident. The question is especially true. Will Brazil be ready? Soccer fans around the globe sure hope so.

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Regional NFL Fan Bases

Regional NFL Fan Bases | Geography Education |

Any cartographic fine-tuning of borders that you would suggest?  What truths does this map obscure?

Tags: regions, sport, mapping.

Matt Mallinson's comment, October 10, 2012 7:17 AM
As a huge football fan, this map is very interesting to me. It shows how different populations are in different parts of the country due to where fans are located.
Nick Flanagan's curator insight, December 12, 2012 5:28 PM

I like how this map shows regionaly were most fans of a certain team are.  However one thing it fails to take into account are fans of a certain team that live in another region.  Like I live in Rhode Isalnd so based on the map i would be a Patriots fan, however I am  49ers fan, and I know i am not the only fan of a team not living in that teams region. 

Heather Ramsey's curator insight, January 25, 2013 4:49 PM

An excellent visual representation of functional regions.

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Dark Days: When the Colts Left Baltimore

A look back on the 27th Anniversary of the the NFL Colts dark flight from Baltimore in the middle of the night.


BM: When the Colts left they took the heart of Balitmore and left the fans in utter disbelief. Robert Irsay had no intention of staying whether he got his new staidum for the Colts or not, he wanted out and had been looking since 1976. The city of Baltimore was not going to budge on the construction of a new pubically funded stadium simply because it was too expensive and the citry didn't have the money. All that remained in Baltimore was an empty Memorial Stadium, which wasn't perfect but was in really decent shape and the Orioles. 


SD: Why are sports teams treated so differently from other businesses?  How are teams linked to place in such intimate ways?  What is the economic impact of a sports team on the city and how could relocation damage that city?  See this topic for more on the cultural and economic impacts of sports teams on cities.

Via Brandon Murphy
Ms. Harrington's comment, August 8, 2012 6:09 AM
I never knew about this particular team, but I can see how a sports franchise abandoning a city has a devastating effect. It seems like there was a deliberate attempt to "sneak"out.
Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, August 8, 2012 6:16 AM
Quite a blow to the entire city of Baltimore, you can see from the older footage as well as the new how badly this effected this city. A huge impact on the people, seemingly crushing spirits across the city.
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Countries Participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London

Countries Participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London | Geography Education |
Discover the number of countries participating in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Find out which countries are not participating in the Olympic Games and learn which non-countries are participating as well.


204 countries are participating in the Olympics?  There aren't even 204 countries in the world!  This article looks at the political geography of international recognition.   One interesting case not discussed in the article is that of Taiwan.  Taiwan is participating, but marched under a non-Taiwanese flag under the name Chinese Taipei because the IOC wanted the mainland Chinese to return to the games. Also, South Sudan, Kosovo and the Vatican are not participating (although pondering them competing, especially the Vatican, is something that deeply amuses me).  Another intriguing thought: how many of the participants were former British colonies?   There are more classroom resources based on the Olympics from the GA.

Emily Larsson's comment, August 26, 2013 6:08 PM
I love the Olympics! Its amazing how almost all of the countries in the world can come together for an event and forget about the conflicts they have back at home.
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Why Hosting the Olympics Is Bad for Cities

Why Hosting the Olympics Is Bad for Cities | Geography Education |
Don't count on gaining much from your moment in the sporting sun.


Cities love the advantages of having the Olympics in town; the cultural prestige, the international publicity and the recognition as a globally significant city.  The tourism and economic impact is the rationale for so many expensive infrastructure projects, yet research indicates that economic boost during the Olympics is not always the boon that it is made out to be. 

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The Joe Paterno Statue on Penn State campus

The Joe Paterno Statue on Penn State campus | Geography Education |
I never imagined that this picture would be awkward or evoke such ambivalent feelings within me.  This picture was taken while I was working on my Ph.D. in geography at the Pennsylvania State Unive...


As a geographer, much on my career has centered on researching monuments in public spaces and their cultural meanings.  As a Penn State graduate, I felt that it was time for me to write a post about my thoughts on the future of the JoePa statue.  Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.   

Roland Trudeau Jr.'s comment, July 15, 2012 10:13 AM
It seems that wrong always overshadows good, but people choose to remember what they want. I would hope that the statue and what it stands for is still given the proper respect and not to invoke emotions and memories of the lower side.
Don Brown Jr's comment, September 3, 2012 7:57 PM
In more than one way a statue can represent the themes or image of the surrounding area serving as an emotional funnel point. Throughout history statues and monuments such as the Colossus of Rhodes have served as a reminder to all who gaze at them of what the idea and values of the surrounding area are. In the case of Penn State the football legacy, the reputation of the school, the surrounding community and state as well as personal pride were all intertwined into this statue of Joe Paterno. Indeed statues carry a significant share of the culture, history and emotional attachments individuals have to a particular landscape and when you remove that image you risk creating a void in the area and peoples conception of it. Presently, the image Penn State will need to fill this vacuum remains to be discovered.
Anhony DeSimone's curator insight, December 18, 2013 8:09 PM

The significance of Joe Paterno at Penn State was huge. At one point Joe Paterno was the heart beat of the Penn State football team and to fans. This statue meant a lot to Penn State fans and all college football fans all over. Until a sex scandal broke out that involved Joe Paterno although he did not commit any sexual acts people started to think differently about him and the program he was running. A statue that symbolized greatness at one time now is only looked at as a terrible crime.

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How to air-condition outdoor spaces During the hot summer months, watching an outdoor sports match or concert can be tantamount to baking uncomfortably in the sun -- but it d...


The physical environment will be altered as the World Cup comes to Qatar in an attempt to raise their global economic profile and to present themselves as more culturally comsopolitan.  Except there is that desert conundrum of having soccer matches in the middle of the desert in the dead of summer.  This shows the technological efforts to redefine confortable weather conditions.   This is a good Ted talk that combines cultural, economic and physical geographic factors in the Middle East. 

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The Geography of Sports Training

The Geography of Sports Training | Geography Education |
Botswana sprinter Amantle Montsho trains in Senegal, thousands of miles from home, in hopes of capturing her country’s first Olympic medal.


While some countries routinely get dozens of medals at each Olympiad, other countries (like Botswana) have never received a medal.  World-class training facilities are not available everywhere, and youth participation is some sports in non-existant.  What are some other factors that contribute to this uneven global patterns of world-class athletics?

Zach Davis's comment, August 12, 2012 10:23 AM
The people of these countries have no money to be able to get the train they need and also the country there from cant afford state of the art equipment for these athletes to train
Jordan Simon's comment, August 17, 2012 9:25 AM
I think it is great for Montsho to be able to leave her home and train for an olympic medal in a place very far from home. It turned out that she became the world champion with the help former training in Senegal. Without the training in Senegal she would not have been able to compete and later win.
Shane Hohman's comment, September 3, 2012 8:13 PM
It is a great accomplishment of Montsho to leave her country and win the gold in London. It is sad that some countries do not have the money to provide training for their athletes, but when she left and trained in Senegal that is what helped her and she needed that the most to win the gold metal because she would not have received the same training in Botswana.
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Spatial Analysis of the NBA Finals

Spatial Analysis of the NBA Finals | Geography Education |
Navigate court maps and view analysis of every shot taken over the ’11-'12 season for the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.


Who said geography has nothing to do with sports?!?  While there are many cultural and economic impacts on sport preference and prevalence, let's discuss the geography of the hardwood and a spatial analysis of the shot selections between the two teams.  Clearly 'place matters' to many NBA players as their success on the court depends on finding their preferred spots within the flow of offense.     

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Which Regions Produce the Most NFL Players?

Which Regions Produce the Most NFL Players? | Geography Education |
Despite Friday Night Lights portrayals, there's a lot more geographic diversity in NFL prospects than you might think.


Happy NFL draft weekend!  As I'm sure you were asking yourself, I was thinking, "where do NFL players come from?" Are there strong spatial patterns of this distribution?  How do cultural forces impact the prevalence of a particular sport in a specific region?  It's not as skewed to the South a you might think. 

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Texas A&M Embarks For the SEC, Immediately Gets Lost

Texas A&M Embarks For the SEC, Immediately Gets Lost | Geography Education |
Texas A&M University is about to go on a journey, a journey that will take them far from home. They're about to enter the Deep South, unfamiliar territory for most Aggies. So in addition to...


Not the worst mistake here, because failing to include the two incoming states might have deliberate.  However, including North Carolina (without any SEC teams and firmly in the heart of ACC country) is a bit of a geographical gaffe. 

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