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  • Writer's pictureCj Mayes

2021 #SportsVizSunday Highlights

This year has been one of huge sporting moments that have been matched with equally incredible visualisations from the #SportsVizSunday crew. But what has 2021 looked like?

The team ran 9 different data-led monthly challenges, with an additional final December challenge of highlighting your favourite sporting moment from this year.

The talent in both breadth and diversity of individuals and sports showcased has grown over the 2021 period, and is something we are very much excited to continue into 2022.

The Tableau Conference was a great moment to highlight the success of all the different authors with a self-curated dataset with all the participants vizzes of this year. We found that we managed to log over 500 vizzes by year end! How amazing is that! 37 different sports were presented, with soccer being the most popular with over 120 vizzes. The Olympics monthly challenge seemed to be a fan favourite, with 30+ on this topic.

During the year we had a some members even contribute over 8 times this year.... including Samuel Epley, Ryan Soares, Adam Green and Frederic Fery. Within the team, Simon Beaumont, Simon Rowe & Mo Wootten all managed to squeeze out 8 or more too.

How do we know all this? From the #TC21 challenge dashboards like this one from Dennis!

Below we wanted to highlight a few moments from the weekly round up and monthly challenges by Team member, along with commentary from the team as to what we particularly liked. It was certainly challenging to only pick two highlights from so many blogs.

CJ Mayes

Firstly, I would hugely recommend anyone to go back through the different blogs and bookmark some of their favourites. Wow, the standard of some of the visualisations are breath-taking.

With that in mind one visualisation that blew me away was this one by Kovács Ivett and JulieBrunet In fact this this was one of my favourite vizzes of the year more broadly.

There are things I can only dream of doing in Tableau that are so creatively shown here. How beautiful is the category back drop. Some more subtle elements such as the breaking record flag, country logo and age of the participant really add to the design of the viz.

For me it is the minor design touches of using the same shape with the Logo and name label in the bottom right that make vizzes go from great to... incredible.

The second visualisation I wanted to highlight was a more recent one from Simon Evans.

There are multiple reasons behind choosing this visualisation. I think first and foremost, I love that its a re-viz. I was pretty impressed by Simon's original viz from a year ago, but I think the level of intricacy that is on display here just goes to show what can happen to your skillset if you are a part of the Tableau community. Exponential growth!

What I also love, especially about this visualisation is the really clean Ban line charts. Often small adjustments to framing and colours can help elevate a visualisation. Simon cleverly uses small circular marks, use of previous year gantts, as well as font size and colour to draw attraction to the insights that matter. Really excited to see more of what I call the 'business' type dashboards in 2022. Great stuff Simon.

Mo Wootten

Picking just two visualisation moments to highlight from this year is quite a challenge. There are so many amazing visualisations that have caught my eye, or taught me something new. I've enjoyed taking the time to going back through them and you've all really got me thinking about how to up my game for 2022!

The first visualisation I want to pick out is Alicia Gámez Belmonte's viz of common dance injuries. When I first saw it, I was immediately struck by Alicia's very clever use of bespoke polygons, and really clean images and colour palette. It's easy to look across the four featured dance styles and see which styles cause injuries in certain areas. Alicia's use of silhouettes also illustrates a common movement for each dance, and they are very well chosen to bring to life the injuries for each style!

From a technical point of view, Alicia's visualisation prompted me to think less about traditional graph styles and more about combining bespoke shapes and images, which is something that still influences my own developing style.

The second visualisation I'm picking is Will Sutton's Toughest Tour. In this visualisation, Will compares each Tour de France across five different factors to try to work out which Tour is the toughest. The five factors are very well chosen to represent five different things that could define any year as the 'toughest' Tour, and the viz shows just how hard it is to work out! (It was also a question I was wondering about at the same time).

I'm a big fan of the coxcomb design which makes it really easy to see which Tours are the highest for each metric, and Will's comments add a lot of extra flavour. In turn, this makes it really easy to see how each Tour compares on its own, and also how the Tour itself has changed over the decades.

As a final touch, Will has also highlighted the Tour that he thinks is the toughest and the whole visualisation encourages you to ask yourself whether you agree.

Kate Brown

Both of my selections come from the #IronQuest collaboration. It was amazing how may quality visualizations were created for that challenge.

First up I picked Jeff Plattner's Magic v. Bird viz. I love everything that Jeff creates but this one is nostalgic for me. I grew up in Massachusetts during this era and I was the biggest Celtics fan. It's remarkable that one of these two teams reached the NBA finals every year during the 1980s.

Jeff did a fantastic job walking through this storied rivalry. The color choices are spot on and I love the touch coloring the year the winner (Celtics/Lakers/other). The sections have a clean consistent design. I appreciated the combination of the narrative & charts, I felt they worked really well together.

Thanks for bringing me back to my childhood and as always "BEAT LA!"

Next up I selected Tina Covelli's viz on MLB pitcher Jacob deGrom. Right off the bat I love the big bold design. I love that I don't have to zoom in on my browser to read the text. The alternating Mets blue and orange section off the long form really well.

Not only is the design great, Tina does a fantastic job outlining her case for deGrom being the best damn pitcher of his time. The charts are all easy to understand and communicate the metric well. I love the pop-outs that explain each of the metrics, this is a great touch.

There's a lot to like about this viz and it's originality. Great work Tina!

I also want to give a special shout out to everyone who participated in the Lacrosse challenge. I knew it was a sport a lot of people were unfamiliar with so I wasn't sure if anyone would create a viz and you all knocked it out of the park with that challenge. Thanks for making my first year as a co-lead of SVS a blast. Looking forward to what you all create in 2022!

Simon Rowe

As part of the #TC21 #SportsVizSunday challenge, the team had to go through the 2021 weekly blogs and pull together all the vizzes that had been produced this year. This was such a great exercise because it meant I actually spent some quality time looking at the fantastic submissions that have been made. The flip side to that of course is that it's made this particular challenge almost impossible!

For my first selection, I've chosen this stunning effort from Abbie Taylor looking at Netball legend Geva Mentor. I had the pleasure of taking an in depth look at this during the October #IronQuest and #SportsVizSunday collaboration. It has a wonderful combination of some great interactivity and also being a really fun design that draws you in. Every time I look at the design when I'm scrolling through my favourites in Tableau Public this makes me smile.

There is a simplicity to the design but also some very subtle and powerful design elements as well like linking the two key design images diagonally at the top left and bottom right. This really frames the viz. Added to that, colour and font choices are spot on and the icing on the cake is the interactivity that's available in terms of showing additional explanations or being able to make comparisons to other players across a number of key stats.

I've always been a huge fan of the work that Adam Green produces and as CJ mentions he is a regular contributor to #SportsVizSunday with some fantastic vizzes. Coincidentally this is also an effort from the 'Sporting legend' collaboration with #IronQuest. There always seems to be something in the water when it comes to community collaboration projects. The contributions are quite often, stunning.

Like a lot of sport fans in the UK, I was drawn into the incredible run from qualifier to US Open champion for Emma Raducanu. With each match, the momentum seemed to build and in an almost unknown feeling for a British sports fan, there was no drama or fuss to each of the matches. Each opponent being dispatched in a clinical, ruthless style with no sets dropped. In the viz below Adam plots how the final unfolded. When I first saw this I was instantly impressed with the visual design. Simple colour choice, and a design that allows the viewer to scan and instantly understand the flow of the match. However, when I loaded this on Tableau Public was when I was really blown away. The level of detail that has gone into this is incredible. Every point has been visualised and described in great detail with clear descriptions and keys. I found myself almost replaying the match, following each game and relating it back to my memories of watching the match. For me, this is the very definition of great storytelling and being able to transport someone back to a great memory within a visualisation is a hugely powerful thing. Well done, Adam!

Simon Beaumont

Two vizzes? Just two vizzes? This is tough! Honestly it has been an amazing year, and picking just two stand-out vizzes is the equivalent of asking an Aussie which one of the 2021 Ashes demolitions of England is their favourite, but here goes nothing and first up I would like to give a shout-out to the amazing talent of Adedamola Ladipo. Back in August he visualised success of recent West Ham managers and I adored the design when he published it, and I still do today. It is so clean, so engaging and so "West Ham". Adedamola is a Tableau Public author who is well worth checking out, so please do not stop at just this viz, dive into his whole profile and admire his design skills and an amazing talent for storytelling and analysis.

My second viz to celebrate comes courtesy of our March 2021 Challenge and collaboration with #ProjectHealthViz and #DiversityInData. In this month Megan Seritan analysed the "Legends of the Women's Wheelchair Marathon" and her design has stuck with me ever since. There is so much to admire about her visualisation, the clarity of colour, the labelling, the white space, all of it for me works and is a great example of data viz done right. Thank you Megan for creating such a fantastic viz and participating in one of our most inspiring monthly challenges of the year.

As we say goodbye to 2021 it seems only fitting to end with a quote by Hillary DePiano...

You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.

Here at #SportsVizSunday we are most definitely excited about 2022 and the sports vizzes you will all create.

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