Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
Before the start of game three of the World Series, Fox Sports showed this map to their viewers. It is awful. Let me tell you why.
(A caveat: While I have ended up doing a lot of infographics, I’m an illustrator/artist, and not a data visualisation expert, so my opinions do not and should not have the weight of people like Edward Tufte.)
We live in an age where, just like love, bad infographics are all around. I have made bad infographics in my life. Plenty of them. I like to think, though, that when I look back at those bad graphics, I learn from the mistakes I made. To that end, let’s look at some mistakes in the Fox Sports map.
We can start by putting our fingers in our mouths to mime vomiting at the aesthetic of Fox’s on-screen graphics. All the shiny stuff that is way more appropriate for Robot Wars than baseball. Add in blurry bits of orange and white in the background, and lay it all over a blimp shot of St. Louis.
Maps should be easy to read, especially if they are going to be on screen for fewer than 15 seconds, as this map was. Your eyes and brain have to read and understand which categories of data are being shown and then process those categories when looking at the map. The way this map has been laid out makes that difficult.
Firstly, the colours they have chosen to represent each team. One of the teams has “red” in the name. Which colour is that team assigned on the map? Blue. With so much to take in in a short space of time, that one should have been a no-brainer, and they got it wrong. Of course, both teams have red as their main colour (and cardinal is a shade of red, I guess), which does make it more difficult, but, in my opinion, the team with the name of the colour in their name gets first dibs on that colour.
Fox is showing us four kinds of states here: heavily in favour of either team, or slightly in favour of either team. That’s fine. I’m all for less black and white and more grey in data analysis in general. But does the key to understanding this information really need to take up a third of the screen?
And that giant key is so difficult to read. For one thing, the key area is dominated by the chopped team logos on black backgrounds. (This is a bug of mine with a lot of sports broadcasts: designing their on-screen graphics with no regard to keeping the logos intact. Here, we can see the middle half of the Red Sox’s cap insignia, which at a glance looks like a badly-drawn H. Note that TV networks never do that with their own logos.) Those logos add nothing to our understanding. They are visual junk. And they also create an overpowering amount of white in the area we are supposed to be able to quickly read and understand. Squint your eyes (or just take your specs off, nerds) and you’ll see that the most noticeable part of that key is a whole load of white.
The relevant information in that third of the screen should be the colours used on the map and what they represent. But the colours that they’ve used on the map are shown on the bracket-y end bits of their Terminator-ish graphics. Those end brackets contain the most important information for understanding the map, yet they are almost invisible.
Look closely at those faux-shiny brackets: they’re not even the same shades as those used on the map. This graphic used blues and reds that are too close to each other. It’s difficult to differentiate between “leaning” and “heavily,” even if you did manage to figure out that the brackets on the partial-logo cartouches are the whole key to the map.
One last thing: The Red Sox’s home city and state and region is, as we all know, in the north east of the United States. The whole map is tilted away from us. Massachusetts and the rest of New England are already small states, in terms of land area, compared to the states in the west of the country. In fact, both of the teams’ home states are in the half of the map tilted furthest from us. If Fox Sports absolutely must tilt the map, it would’ve been preferable to flip the elements of the graphic, so the map could be titled with the east coast closest to us. This is if and only if you insist on tilting the map at all.
The failures of this map irked me so much that I spent almost ten whole minutes on remaking it. Imagine this quick Tumblr post as me showing you the plans of a house. I’ve not put the sofas, carpets and curtains in. Despite the knocked-off-in-ten-minutes-ness of this, I think it’s already a heck of a lot easier to read.
Whether you like my choices of colour, or my somewhat tedious tendency to always use Gill Sans, or the flatness that banishes all reflections and light source tomfoolery, I think it’s a lot clearer. I have made the map flat so that New England is a lot easier to see. Because we read left to right, the key is on the left so it’s the first thing we look at. There’s space at the top left where you could place the words “World Series,” “Fox Sports,” and “Facebook Fandom Map.”
Because of our familiarity with temperature gauges going from hot to cold, or map topography colours on regular maps, I’ve re-ordered the key from being most pro-Cardinals to least pro-Cardinals (that is, most pro-Red Sox), rather than Fox’s heavily-leaning-heavily-leaning ordering. Our brains are impressive things, and we pick up how to read graphics over the years. It’s only when people do things that confound our knowledge that data visualisation gets confusing. I mean, how else would we know that the Cardinals are popular in the Midwest?
éćíéáÖŠèčééèäééëÓúàéášýúíéŁńéëéōéęÖ: every letter with a diacritic in names of players that have played for Arsenal during the Wenger era.
See also yesterday’s pixelly diamond-shaped football kits of English teams.
That last drawing of all the teams… well, here’s one team’s home kit, away kit, and the goalkeeper versions of both of those: animated.
Baseball! ¡Béisbol! Current leagues and teams in Mexico. Ligas y equipos actuales en México.
I drew this while I was watching him win Wimbledon.
As iconic as this photograph is, I have no idea who took it. (Update: the photo was taken by Steve Powell. Thanks to Keith Last for telling me this.) Type “Maradona Belgium” into Google Images and many of the results are of this image. Type in simply “Maradona” and it comes up fairly quickly, too.
What the photograph shows us is six Belgian players all watching what Diego Maradona is doing. (The game was Belgium and Argentina’s first group game at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, at the Camp Nou in Barcelona.) What we take from the photograph is further confirmation of what we already know: Maradona was utterly fantastic. And that is what the photograph is intended to do.
But there’s a lot that the photograph does not tell us. Aside from not telling us that Belgium won the game 1-0 (Erwin Vandenbergh, 62′), the photograph is a little bit deceiving.
Maradona is fouled, and the referee awards Argentina a free kick, and gives a yellow card to Luc Millecamps.
Osvaldo Ardiles takes a short free kick, passing it to Maradona.
And this is where we see the moment that the photograph was taken. Maradona had not even touched the ball at this point. His left foot is raised ready to receive the ball.
We can see in the video Ardiles is about to run directly through the Belgian players who made up the wall. And all of those players who, in the photograph, look like they are there to stop Maradona being awesome, are actually just breaking out of being a wall, eyes following the ball. Maradona attempts to cross the ball to a teammate on the left side of the box, but it’s cleared by Millecamps.
The photograph… well, it tricks us.
Nonetheless, it’s a cool photo, and it illustrates a point beautifully: Maradona was fucking amazing.
Another soccer chart today. This time, I’m re-visiting and updating something I did (badly) in 2008, when I looked at the Brazil and Argentina World Cup squads over the years, and where the players played their club football. Unsurprisingly, players went where the money is, and more and more played in Europe. So, yes, I’ve updated those, and to contrast that, added charts looking at (West) Germany and Italy, too.
The last week or so, I’ve been thinking that it’s probably time to do more non-baseball infographics. And not just other sports, too. But for now, it is sport-themed. Football. Soccer.
Both are regarding English football, but at different ends of things. First, a look at Liverpool FC’s last 23 seasons. 23 championship-less seasons.
And the other chart looks at those teams that have been relegated from the Football League to “non-league football.” The first team to experience automatic relegation was my hometown team, Lincoln City, back in 1987. And plenty of other teams have suffered the same fate since.
There are a lot of sports autobiographies called “My Story.” I did a search on Amazon.co.uk…
If I were really committed, I’d get this made up into a sleeve patch, like on sports uniforms, and have this sewn onto all of my clothes for the year. But I’m not, so for now, it’s just gonna be an image on my little part of the Internet.