Saturday, September 05, 2020

Sports Super-Spreaders

As competitive sport emerges from lock-down the question of allowing fans into stadium now needs to be addressed. Many sports have begun playing games and matches behind closed doors and in Europe their have been a few experiments with allowing a limited number of fans to attend some games.

Obviously the big worry is that when packing lots of people together in a stadium it is very difficult to conform to social distancing. In February the Spanish soccer team Valencia traveled to Italy to play a Champions League match against Atalanta. 2,500 Valencia fans also traveled to Italy for the game. Some of those fans then brought coronavirus back to Spain. Several weeks after the game the match was determined to have been a 'super-spreading event'.

In order to highlight the risks of fans spreading Covid-19 ESPN has looked at anonymized cellphone tracking data from three American football games to visualize how far fans disperse after attending a game. In Mapping College Football and Covid Risk ESPN looked at the cell-phone records of fans attending college football games to see how and where they traveled after the games had finished. For each game the data used represents less than 12% of all those who attended. The mapped visualizations therefore show the geograhical extent of returning fans even if their numbers are strictly limited.

Six hours after the 2019 game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Ohio State Buckeyes in Lincoln, Nebraska fans had dispersed to more than 30 counties. 18 hours after kickoff fans had traveled as far as Denver and Chicago. The ESPN investigation also visualizes the spread of football fans after the 2019 matches between Stanford & USC and Ole Miss & Alabama. These visualization really highlight how sports fans could easily become super-spreaders of a virus, carrying it far and wide. It goes a long way to show why sports bodies and sports teams must plan meticulously how they will ensure social distancing inside stadium before they once again allow fans to attend sporting events.

The ESPN mapped visualizations were created using Mapbox's Scrollytelling Template. This template is designed to help you create your own 'scrollytelling' map stories. This Mapbox scrollytelling demo map introduces the scrollytelling map format and shows you what you can achieve by using the Mapbox scrollytelling template.

No comments: