Latest News Just Doesn't Understand Data Presentation

Sunday, September 14, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 9:49 PM, under ,

Athens, GA (September 14, 2008) - Sports Illustrated still does not get it when it comes to data presentation. As reported here last year, the website gives women's basketball the short shrift when it comes to reporting scores. They have also managed to reinvent football scoring.

Now they cannot distinguish between what data should be considered dynamic and what should be considered static. In this case, the data in question is the weekly college football rankings. This is static data that is updated weekly. When reported, the rankings, records and posts are a static snapshot of what teams have done and where they stand at the time the poll voters vote. This is not data that should have the records updated in between weekly poll releases. But from their presentation on, you cannot tell what the current rankings are:

Why is this a problem? Because the data being reported is not accurate, and to the uneducated visitor to the web site, they would think that Georgia is 3-0 and ranked 2nd, and that despite being thrashed by Southern California, Ohio State is 2-1 and still ranked 5th. Of course we know the rankings have changed with Georgia falling to 3rd, and the Buckeyes have dropped to 13th in the AP Poll (14th in the coaches poll).

Who does it right? As much as readers may not like to hear this, the answer is ESPN. No, ESPN is not perfect when reporting data as they added Louisiana-Monroe to the SEC last January. But in the case of the polls, at least the get the data presentation right and understand that this type of data is static:

Bottom line? If Sports Illustrated and want to be taken seriously as a source of data, they have got to get the presentation right and not change data that should be considered static.

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