Sports Viz Sunday – 2018 in Review

When Simon Beaumont, James Smith, and myself started Sports Viz Sunday this past year we had no idea what kind of reception we would receive from the community. Our adventure began on January 19th 2018 with a random Twitter DM from two people I knew from the Tableau community.

After some quick introductions via Twitter we went about formulating our ideas on how this initiative would take place. With all the amazing initiatives already in place such as #MakeOverMonday and #WorkoutWednesday, we had some great examples to look to for inspiration. The people that run those initiatives are truly amazing, and we thank you all greatly for the leadership that you have shown the community that has enabled other data initiatives such as our own.

The first ever Sports Viz Sunday message

The first ever Sports Viz Sunday message

After coming up with our basic premise of sharing sports themed vizzes on a weekly basis and providing data sets for a monthly challenge, we had to come up with a name. After several ideas, some great, others not so great, we reached a consensus on #SportsVizSunday.

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Once our premise was demised and our name was set, the next step was to try and get some sort of engagement and buy-in from the larger community. Luckily, there were so many people in the larger Tableau community who had a knack for visualizing sports, so we had plenty of material to promote to get the initiative started (examples below).

It seemed like every month more people participated in our initiative and more people were getting recognized for their submissions including numerous Tableau Public Viz of the Day’s and a Viz of the Week. What began to emerge was a community of folks online who, whether it was Sunday or not, began to use our hashtag to share sports related visualizations with one another. The hashtag in itself has provided a way to search for sports visualizations and to share their interests and passion projects with the community . I can’t describe how cool it has been for us to sit back and watch all of this unfold. We never imagined this project taking off the way it has. We have participants from all over the globe with interest in every sporting event imaginable. We are so glad to have created this avenue for people who are passionate about sports, data, and Tableau in particular to interact with one another!

Our efforts really seemed validated when we were fortunate enough to present at Tableau Conference in New Orleans. A couple hours before our presentation, we joked to one another that we hoped that 10 people would show up to make our trek to New Orleans worth it, but we’d soon find out, a lack of attendance would not be the issue.

About an hour before we presented Simon and I went to our hotels to grab our soccer jerseys to don during the presentation. As we are walking through the cavernous convention center Simon and I received a text from an often sarcastic and humorous James Smith telling us to hurry because a “queue” was forming. Simon and I laughed to one another thinking this was another well timed joke from Mr. Smith, but when we got back to our presentation area we saw the gigantic line that has formed. We were all taken aback in a “wait, this can’t really be happening, we’re just a bunch of nerds who like soccer just like you guys” kind of way.

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The presentation went well, and afterward we were able to take a deep sigh of relief and enjoy the rest of the conference. We were excited, encouraged, and quite frankly shocked at the outpouring of support for our efforts. It was just another reminder of how the Tableau community shows their support for people trying to accomplish their goals, which we were so appreciative of.

2018 has been a year of trial and error, successes and mistakes, and times of uncertainty followed by a sense of validation. To everyone who came and supported us at Tableau Conference, anyone who has participated in one of our monthly data challenges and posted to our data.world site, anyone who has made a sports visualization and shared it with the community via the #SportsVizSunday hashtag, to anyone who has liked or retweeted sports visualization tweet, and to anyone who offered support to us in any way, we sincerely thank you.

We already have a 2019 slate full of some of the most respected names in the Tableau community lined up as guest hosts for our monthly data challenges. 2018 was indeed a great year, but stay tuned for 2019, we aren’t finished! See you all in 2019.

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