Statistics Saturday: The Size of Rhode Island in terms of Football Fields


“Length” is here taken to be longitudinal, east-west, distance; “Width” that to be latitudinal, north-south, distance. “Height” is that normal thing.

The dimensions of Rhode Island as measured by an (American) football field, with the long dimension (120 yards) running east-to-west:

Dimension Football Fields
Length 1772
Width 888
Height 4940

The dimensions of Rhode Island as measured by an (American) football field, with the long dimension (120 yards) running north-to-south:

Dimension Football Fields
Length 788
Width 1999
Height 4940
A map of Rhode Island, with a grid spaced to roughly the proportions of a football field superimposed on it.
Rhode Island (yellow) against a grid of football fields (not to scale).

  1. Yes, I’m including Block Island.
  2. I’m including the end zones.
  3. Football field artificial grass is apparently 5 cm tall, so I’m supposing that to be the standard height of the grass on the field.
  4. Only land points of Rhode Island are being included, thus, the westernmost extent is at Napatree Point.
  5. If there’s any part of Rhode Island that’s below sea level I don’t know it.
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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

8 thoughts on “Statistics Saturday: The Size of Rhode Island in terms of Football Fields”

    1. You know, in reality, it’s a complex question and I recumbent John M Barry’s Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul for a fuller explanation, but the short version is: oh, boy, would they have loved to gobble up Rhode Island but then Massachusetts would have had to deal with the way too many Baptists already living there.

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  1. Joseph, as always, your analysis is insightful, but I fear it raises a host of new questions (although some of them are compound questions, which could easily be addressed by your co-host).

    1) Why are the north and west coasts of Rhode Island so straight? Did ancient aliens shape the island using giant laser cutting torches and space rulers, like they did the plains of Nazca Island in Peru?

    2) Rhode Island looks like a miniature version of Indiana, but was founded twenty-six years earlier. Did ancient aliens visit the future in order to use Indiana as a template when building Rhode Island?

    3) Is the vaguely trapezoidal shape an indication that ancient aliens were trapezoids themselves, or were they simply worshippers of the ancient alien god Trapezium?

    4) The east coast has some serious damage. Did ancient aliens drop Rhode Island, or was it smashed to smithereens by ancient alien movers from the Crab Nebula, due to an insufficient use of packing peanuts?

    5) Didn’t ancient aliens have bubble wrap?

    6) The Rhode Islands are clearly an archipelago. Did ancient aliens lose count, or did the shipping container simply read “Contents: Rhode Island (1)”, and ancient alien installers didn’t bother to report that they had broken it, so they wouldn’t have to file a claim with ancient alien insurance companies?

    7) Why are Canadian football fields 10 yards longer than American football fields? Did ancient aliens come to suburban Canadia to escape the overcrowding of Crab Nebulan cities, primarily due to the better schools and bigger yards for Crab Nebulan kids?

    8) Did ancient alien parents make their kids wear bike helmets just to ride around the neighborhood? Even in a cul-de-sac?

    9) What exactly is a smithereen, and where can I get one?

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    1. Well, I’ve got some partial answers to these questions, at least. Among them:

      1. The northern border of Rhode Island was set by King Charles II decreeing that the border should run east-to-west along the bottom edge of Massachusetts. It actually runs a little diagonally because going east-to-west was so hard and Massachusetts got all whiny.

      2. The west border is supposed to run north-south with Connecticut based on a compromise in which, again according to Charles II, the eastern border of Connecticut isn’t also the eastern border of Rhode Island but instead the longitude of the source of the Pawcatuck River. It jogs a little east and west of this because going north-to-south was so hard and Connecticut got all whiny.

      3. The eastern border results from Rhode Island and Massachusetts deciding it’s silly to keep fighting over their ancient colonial charters and instead they should just make their peace and equitably swap East Providence for Fall River, so they got around to that and made peace over their borders in 1862 according to Rhode Island and 1898 according to Massachusetts, although Rhode Island says Massachusetts didn’t say they had made peace until 1944.

      4. Indiana’s northern border is completely unlike Rhode Island’s, in that it actually does run east-to-west excepting where the surveyors might have got drunk, and the only reason it isn’t quite level with the northern border of Ohio is because if it were then Toledo would have been in Ohio instead of Michigan. Toledo is, but that’s because we live in a complicated world.

      5. The Smithereens are the alternative/power-pop band known for “Beyond The Wall Of Sleep”, “A Girl Like You”, and their abridged cover of The Who’s Tommy. My love and I saw them for a New Year’s Eve concert once. A Smithereen would then be one of: Pat DiNizio, Jim Babjak, Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion, Dennis Diken, or Mike Mesaros. They come from Carteret, New Jersey, although they’re currently signed with Koch Records, which is probably the best place to find one.

      6. Canadian football fields are larger than American ones because it takes longer to stop on the ice and so players need more space. It is similar to how in baseball runners are allowed to keep going a reasonable distance after first base: when in the 1860s they played baseball on frozen ponds with the players wearing ice skates there just was no stopping on a base so they had to over-run. This was exciting enough people wanted it in regular, non-ice-skating baseball too, while baseball’s management thought that would be just too exciting, so they compromised and allowed over-running on first base (and home plate) but only them.

      7. So help me I’m not making up a single syllable about ice-skating baseball. The world just really works like that.

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    1. It’s really a nice, cozy state to work with. You might be surprised. I grant that it’s easiest to get around in it by going outside to adjacent states and coming back in, but still, it’s got one of the oldest merry-go-rounds still in existence and you can’t say that about enormous, spacious states like Wyoming or Maryland.

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