Sports: An Abstract Art

10/17/2015 Matt Chambers 0 Comments

When we think about sports, we usually think about statistics like passing yards, touchdowns, sacks, or interceptions.  All of those statistics are micro-level stats about individuals.  However, if you think about sports from the macro-level, you can see trends over time where all of those micro-level statistics roll up.  These visualizations take a more abstract approach to representing sports statistics.

I have always been a huge fan of Peter Gilks Ballcode visualization.  It's a really cool way to see how each team performed throughout the course of the season.  I wanted to do the same thing except look at the historical performance of each NFL team.  I also wanted to use the win/loss differential to quickly show if the team had a winning or losing season.  Then, I colored the bars gold for teams that won the Super Bowl.  I thought this was a novel way to show all of the teams against each other, and it easily allows you to identify dynasties like the Steelers in the 70s, 49ers in the 80s, Cowboys in the 90s, and Patriots in the 2000s.  In this one visualization, thousands of players careers and statistics all roll up to show the overall performance of each NFL franchise.

Another viz I did recently, looks at the change in the AP Top 25 College Football rankings.  It's pretty cool to see how far Ohio State dropped before making a meteoric rise to win the national championship.

Finally, this visualization represents the flow of football players from high school, to college, to the NFL.  This is another viz where the lives of thousands of individuals are represented in one image.  In this viz is the story of the kid who makes it to a top 25 college football team and goes on to NFL glory.  More details in this blog post.

I hope you enjoy taking a different perspective on sports statistics.  It's always fun to try to represent data using visual methods that are somewhat different than the norm.


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