Simplifying Sports Data to Create More Intuitive, Revealing Visualizations

by Jon Salm 8 months ago Filed Under: Design

Visualizing a Football Game from Jeremy Yingling on Vimeo.

As a lifelong fan of both sports and data visualizations, in 2009 Jeremy Yingling created Infojocks, a graphic studio merging his two passions.

“There’s a lot of statistical noise in the world of sports right now, and rightly so,” he says. “But despite all of the resources that sports media pours into analysis, there’s very little work done to visualize even the most basic of sports stats.”

Yingling works to change that at Infojocks. He has created graphics that visualize single games, single seasons, and even a team’s history.

Notably, he works outside of advanced metrics commonly associated with sports analytics. While baseball’s WAR, football’s QB ratings, and hockey’s Corsi and Fenwick metrics do a good job of quantifying sporting events, they largely disconnected from the action of the games.

Infojocks’ graphics eschew trendy stats for more basic ones that paint the truer picture of the game. A recent graphic about Super Bowl XLVII is framed around possession, which Yingling calls the simplest aspect of the game.

“In working on these football game infographics, I limited myself to working with the most basic of sports stats: the box score. At its simplest, football is a game of possession. The most important variables are how far a team moves the ball (yardage) and how long it takes to do it (drive). In this graphic, each piece of pie is a single possession. Time moves around the circle, like a game clock, and yards are represented by the radius.”

By ignoring even the more basic statistics like yardage, yards per play, and yards per carry/catch, the final graphic illustrates the simple yet compelling back and forth of a high stakes football game. Simplifying the data source presents a game in a way that is both intuitive and revealing.

Infojocks is based out of Oakland, CA and can be found on Visual.ly and at Infojocks.com

 

Jon Salm is an associate client analyst at Millward Brown Digital in New York City and a freelance data journalist in the Visual.ly marketplace. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Washington and Lee University. You can find him online at about.me/salm.jon and follow him on twitter @S4LM3R.