Above is a scatter plot of height (y-axis) and weight (x-axis) for professional athletes in the five major sports in the United States: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. The data points displayed are averages at different positions in the sport. For example, the average point guard in the NBA is 6’2” 185 lbs whereas the average center is 6’11” 250 lbs. The average US man (approximately 5’9” 190 lbs) is labeled in white. Keep in mind that only 14.5% of US men are taller than 6 foot and only 3.9% are taller than 6’2”. Given that the average height for the shortest position in the NBA is 6’2”, virtually 96% of the US population is eliminated for consideration on height alone.
Another thing that stands out is the weight difference in the NFL compared to other major sports. Every position averages a higher weight than the average US man. A big driver of this is the ‘arms race’ of teams drafting larger and larger offensive linemen and subsequently larger defensive linemen in response. Below is a bar chart displaying the number of players in the NFL that weighted over 300 pounds in ten-year intervals. In 1980, only 3 players weighted over 300 pounds – today average offensive lineman is 6’5” 312 pounds.