Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One of the dumbest graphics I've ever seen

Last night was Brittney Griner's first WNBA game.  If you've watched any sports news since then, the "big story" is that she dunked twice, becoming the first WNBA player to ever do that.  In fact, there had only been a total of 3 dunks before in league history (2 by Candace Parker, 1 by Lisa Leslie).  While reporting this on Sportscenter, ESPN decided to throw this graphic up on the screen:

First of all, I think they totally missed the point; Griner dunking twice last night is a much bigger deal in relation to the fact that there'd only been 3 dunks before EVER.  The notion that it was also the first time any player dunked twice in the same game seems like a pretty obvious secondary stat.  And even if that's the info they decide they want to emphasize, it's not something that lends itself well to a picture.  The text "first game in 3,437 that someone dunked twice" tells the whole story.  And finally, the "graph" itself is horribly inaccurate.  The height of the bar under the number "1" looks to be about 5% of the size of the bar representing 3,436, roughly 172 times bigger than it should be.

Also worth noting, Griner's team, the Phoenix Mercury, got destroyed 102-80 by the Chicago Sky.  And even though Griner (the #1 overall pick in this year's draft) posted 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, she got outperformed by the #2 pick, the Sky's Elena Delle Donne (22, 8, and 4).  I don't think Griner's ready for the NBA just yet.



  1. This chart is so bad that it reminds me of Edward Tufte's demonstration of the stupidity of PowerPoint presentations, in which Lincoln's "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation..." gets reduced to this PowerPoint slide:

    As long as I'm making fun of the chart...

    1) The metaphor "the extra mile" is really a stretch in this situation. How high did she have to jump to make that second dunk? Probably not 5280 feet. Probably more like 1 foot.

    2) I have never seen a bar chart where the two bars were separated by a glowing blue obelisk. Does this obselisk actually mean something in the world of the WNBA, or did some intern just pick the coolest graphic they could find in their cheesy chart software?

    3) What's with the little crosshairs that appear throughout the grid? And why is there a grid in the first place, since, as you pointed out in your post, the chart is not at all to scale?

    4) Any chart would have been stupid, but why did they pick a bar chart? Why no love for the pie chart? I am offended.

    1. I'm re-using this blog in a new post for tomorrow, just read your comment again. Spectacular.


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