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– 1% of the news in infographics …

Sports infographics – is it a dead category?


The judging of the sports infographics turned out to be a ‘bloody’ affair. Only a very few entries survived the slaughtering done by the judges, who handed out killer-markers relentlessly and thereby removed any hopes for the entries to win a medal.

How ironic – the graphics who concentrate on competition, medals, gold and silver, – they stand almost no chance of getting on the podium themselves. I asked the judges – ‘did you see any good infographics this year? Any new ideas?’. At first silence, but then – ‘yeah, I think I saw something interesting among all the Formula 1 cars – the racetrack tinted in different colours to reflect the proposed speed of the curves’.

Sports takes up a lot of time in the departments
Coloured tracks in F1-graphics? Will that save the sports graphics? That’s not much new thinking in a category, which traditionally draws quite a lot of entries. And let us not forget, that sports takes up a lot of time in the infographics departments around the world.

At the recent Olympics coverage, I saw some papers setting out to tell the readers about the rules of different sports: Luge-driving, curling etc. I must admit I didn’t delve deep into these graphics – I have seen the likes of them, so many times by now, that to me they are almost without interest.

Horrific experience at the Show Don’t Tell-workshop
Compare that to the awesomeness I felt, when I saw the Marca-sportsgraphics back in 1993, when I first visited the infographic Spain in Madrid with Pablo Ramirez heading the team at Marca. What they did at that time was mind-blowing to the group of infographic artists from Denmark which I travelled with. We also ended up in Pamplona by participating in the workshop ‘Show don’t tell’ under the guidance of Peter Sullivan, which truly was a horrific experience for both him and the group of Danes not used to his bullying style. But that’s another story, so back to sportsgraphics, which at least in my mind, hasn’t been improved much since then. And it has been 17 years.

Sports graphics have lost their sexyness
But do we need new thinking in sports graphics? I mean – football is still played on a green field with white markings on. Formula 1 cars are still coming in first, second and third – and maybe the readers are happy to be served the facts and results in a way they know, so they can concentrate on the sports rather than the decoding of innovative graphics?

Maybe we should just let sports graphics sink into the anonymous pool of graphics categories, which serves the readers well, but scores low on the sexy awardo-meter, when it comes to competitions?