birthplace effect
n. The tendency for smaller cities to produce disproportionately more professional athletes than larger cities.
A few years a ago, sport scientist Jean Côté and his colleagues discovered a phenomenon they termed the birthplace effect. While poring over the statistics of over 2,000 U.S. and Canadian athletes in the NHL, NBA, MBA, and the PGA, the researchers noticed something interesting - a relation between the size of the city kids grew up in and their likelihood of making it on the professional sports sceene.1 It turns out that growing up in a smallish city such as Liu's Smithtown, and having the opportunity to sample different sports as Jim Liu did, were better ingredients for sports success than specializing in one sport early on.
—Sian Beilock, “How to Create a Sports Superstar,” Psychology Today, August 02, 2010
The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether the size of the city in which an athlete is born (i.e. the birthplace effect) influences the likelihood of playing professional sport.
—Jean Cote, et al., “When 'where' is more important than 'when': Birthplace and birthdate effects on the achievement of sporting expertise” (PDF), Journal of Sports Science, October 01, 2006
2005 (earliest)
In a groundbreaking study, Jean Cote of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, reported that in studies conducted in the US, Canada and Australia, children growing up in cities of more than one million inhabitants had a significantly lower chance of making it to the top than children growing up in cities of less than 500,000, and in particular in towns between 5,000 and 50,000 in size. This phenomenon has been labelled the birthplace effect.
—Brendan Mooney, “Born to run? Then keep it country, says study on elite athletes,” The Irish Examiner, August 17, 2005