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Curating the world of sport

World Sport Ranking

 

The World Sport Rankings by The Sportspedia are the first collection of reports that assess and compare sporting excellence across over 150 sports.

The Sportspedia 100 is the yearly edition of the World Sport Ranking for Sportspeople, it is the list of the 100 best sportspeople in the world, across all sports, only utilizing quantitative methods.

 

 

There is no precedent for a World Sport Ranking that measured sporting excellence by numerical means across over 150 sports and considering over 3,000 sportspeople from all around the world.

The Sportspedia 100 World Ranking has the specific scope of classifying the 100 best sportspeople in the world only utilizing quantitative methods.

 

The bottom line is to determine who are the best sportspeople in the world for a yearnot necessarily within a year.

 

This means that there are two axes:

 

1.-Excellence in Performance within a given year relative to competition

 

 

 

2.-Historical significance of the achievements within the year.

Excellence in Performance is worth 60% and it measures:

 

  1. The result in the most important competition in the discipline
  2. World ranking progression within the year
  3. World-class win-rate
  4. World-class success in multiple categories
  5. The best result in a world-class competition
  6. Ranking within the sport

 

This total is then multiplied by the competition factor.

 

The competition factor is used to assess the competitive level of the tournaments where the measured results are obtained.

 

This considers five categories of variables:

 

  1. The sport’s globalization
  2. The tournamen’s professionalism
  3. The competitive level within the sport
  4. The competitive level within the specific discipline
  5. The competitive level of the specific athletes that were faced

 

  • Each of them has their own variables that determine subscores. There are a total of 28 variables. For example: the international presence of competitors within the tournaments and how many other world-class winners were faced.

 

 

Historical significance is worth 40% and it measures:

 

  1. The historical ranking within the group of sports
  2. The historical ranking within their discipline
  3. The historical ranking within their main category, compared to the time win which the category has existed
  4. World-Class records of milestones achieved during the year

 

It took weeks of research and analysing data to determine the historical rankings within the categories, disciplines and group of sports, based on the numbers-based sporting achievements of the competitors in the sport within the last three centuries.

 

It is important to note that the competitors are only credited with a score in this measure if their sporting achievements for the given year contributed -numerically- to their position within such historical rankings and/or they broke or continued to extend world-class records or milestones.

A Graduate student at Cornell University started the World Sport Ranking as a side project where he could design formulas and equations to quantitatively assess sporting performance across all types of competitive sports, for a specific year.

 

 

After months of work designing equations, computing data, designing taxonomies, gathering data, generating in-house historical statistics for dozens of sports in order to determine the world’s best competitors within groups of sports and within sports and running the numbers, this idea became a reality.

A lot. Hundreds and hundreds of hours making sure that every single variable is correctly added for every single athlete. 

In some cases this meant actions such as counting -one by one- every single nationality represented at a World Ranking at a single discipline -and repeat per discipline within each sport-, or gathering the historical data of the top 20 winningest athletes per each discipline, for dozens of disciplines. Some externalities of this work can further be published.

The overwhelming majority of the work is not represented in this list.

  • Why is my favorite athlete not listed there?
This exercise is fully numbers based, meaning we did not factor aesthetic considerations such as how beautiful the play is. 

We also did not consider how popular an athlete is, nor their impact outside of sporting performance such as their impact in social issues or advancing causes.

It is probably well worth a shot to eventually make other lists that factor those considerations but it was not the scope this time.

  • Why are some sports not represented at all?
Certainly not because we decided to exclude a sport or group of sports.  The global pandemic made some sports shut down altogether, meaning there were no relevant competitions at all. 

In other instances there were generational changes that meant the new world leaders within their sport are not yet as dominant or historical as the sportspeople in this list.

There are several other variables that might have affected the individual ranking of the athletes because their sports are not as globalized, are not professionalized or competition is very scattered or largely unorganized. These are all factors that were considered in the competition factor we have previously mentioned.

  • Why limit the list to 100 if you say you considered over 3,000 sportspeople?
Every single athlete that is included here had every single variable and number revised and confirmed by hand to make sure that the number is accurate. In some cases when it was mathematically impossible for some sportspeople to be ranked within the top 100 then we did not fully thoroughly finish making their calculations. However, we did exhaust it if there was a remote mathematical chance that they would be within the top 110 or so.
  • Are you sure you did not overlook other athletes that could fit within the top 100?
Fairly certain, yes. There might be some athletes in some sports that you are pretty much sure that they could have made it in this list. We can almost guarantee we probably did, as long as the sport is generally organized.
  • Some of the athletes in the list were beaten by athletes outside the list. Why are these not included?
Great question! This can be explained by different individual variables depending on each case. It is usually explained because “Historical significance” is worth 40%. So in these instances even though an athlete was not necessarily the best throughout the year -which is accounted within the 60% for “Excellence in Performance“- they kept on breaking or extending records that place them among the very best of all time. 

In other words, sportspeople here are benchmarked against the competition they faced throughout the year and also against every single other competitor in the last 300 years.
  • Did you include non-competitive sports?
We did not. It was already a huge challenge to design equations that would allow us to compare boxers that fight once a year with jockeys that run over 800 times a year with team sport players, etc. This is purely for competitive sports in the strict sense of the word: those with organized tournaments that award positions.
  • Why are some teammates listed in different positions all year long?
In these cases it is very likely that they have the same score for 60% of the total, although it might not be exactly the same. For example, one might have a better rate depending on the matches he/she appeared on.  
 
The other variation would be accounted within the other 40%, where one might have reached more milestones or has previously had more triumphs that placed him/her above their teammates in the historical table within the discipline or across their sport. For example, Sébastien Ogier having had some wins without Julien Ingrassia in the past outside of rally.

Sportspedia 100

The 100 Best Sportspeople in the World for the year 2020

The Class of 2020 of the 100 best sportspeople in the world competed in 39 sports and hail from 34 countries, from every permanently inhabited continent.

Some sports and groups of sports were totally absent due to a total or partial shutdown during the pandemic, and some sportspeople did not compete at all due to travel limits.

Nevertheless, the Class of 2020 saw several historical milestones being achieved and extended. Feel free to click on each photo to know more about these individuals. You can also consult the full list as a table here.

Please feel free to contact us with any concern or enquiry you might have at press@sportpedia.net.

Revised Edition: On May 22, 2021 we discovered two numerical mistakes in our scoring that have now been corrected directly affecting the following the following results -and by consequence, some others:

1.-Several Bayern München players had not been accounted for some of the team’s records during the season. Some had. This has been corrected, only adjudicating them records in the tournaments where these players participated at least as part of the bench. As a result the list has been expanded to 110 sportspeople.

2.-There was a scoring mistake in one of Ørjan Larsen’s cells: he had correctly been scored the points for being the most successful Age of Empires Players of all time however this number had not been factored by the number of years the Age of Empires series has existed competitively. The score has now been corrected with a change of about 8 points.

We apologize for these mistakes!

 

1.
LeBron James

2.
Novak Djokovic

3.
Antoni Bou

4.
Rafael Nadal

5.
Francesco Friedrich

6.
Sue Bird

7.
Hakuhō Shō

8.
Lewis Hamilton

9.
Tom Brady

10.
Ireen Wüst

11.
Mohamed Farah

12.
Amélie Wenger-Reymond

13.
Ronnie O'Sullivan

14.
Roger Federer

15.
Sven Kramer

16.
Mikaël Kingsbury

17.
Cristiano Ronaldo

18.
Kane
Waselenchuk

19.
Isabell
Werth

20.
Allyson Felix

21.
Sarah Storey

22.
Paola Longoria

23.
Frankie Dettori

24.
Martina Sáblíková

25.
Jon Jones

26.
Shingo Kunieda

27.
Shane Hendrixson

28.
Jason
Belmonte

29.
Reginald Bamford

30.
Serena Williams

31.
Mathew Fraser

32.
Therese Johaug

34.
Pavel Andreev

35.
Sébastien Ogier

36.
Nikola Karabatić

37.
Lionel Messi

38.
Ørjan Larsen

39.
Mike Smith

40.
Ben Ainslie

41.
Mathieu van der Poel

42.
Marie Bochet

43.
Reanne Evans

44.
Khabib

Nurmagomedov

45.
Felix
Loch

46.
Manuel Neuer

47.
Emma Bristow

48.
Boyd Exell

49.
Tia-Clair Toomey

50.
Robert Lewandowski

51.
Amanda Nunes

52.
Saúl Álvarez

53.
Clarisse Agbegnenou

54.
Diede de
Groot

55.
Dylan Alcott

56.
John Velázquez

57.
Thomas Müller

58.
Joshua Kimmich

59.
Diana Taurasi

60.
Mike Bryan

61.
Thorsten Margis

62.
Brian McKeever

63.
Tiger Woods

64.
Julien Ingrassia

65.
Scott Dixon

66.
Magnus Carlsen

67.
Karsten Warholm

68.
Carl-Antoni Cloutier

69.
Yui Kamiji

70.
Lucy Ejike

71.
Katie
Taylor

72.
Kinglsey Coman

73.
Esteban Gaubeka

74.
Martins Dukurs

75.
Thomas Chareyre

76.
Kristian Nergaard

78.
Peter Gilchrist

79.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo

80.
Armel Le Cléac'h

81.
Christian Taylor

82.
Serge Gnabry

83.
Jonathan Rea

84.
Robert Fulford

85.
Michael van Gerwen

86.
David
Alaba

87.
Anna van der Breggen

89.
Alex Marshall

90.
Jérôme Boateng

91.
Corentin Tolisso

92.
Teddy
Riner

93.
Iñaki Osa Goikoetxea

94.
Bob
Bryan

95.
Timothy Cheruiyot

96.
David Wagner

97.
Niklas Süle

98.
Meg Lanning

99.
Javier Martínez

101.
Joshua Cheptegei

102.
Valentina
Shevchenko

103.
Noah
Lyles

104.
Cédric Sorhaindo

105.
Daniil
Ivanov

106.
Javier Urriza

107.
Jarl Magnus Riiber

108.
Thiago Alcântara

109.
Ibeth Zamora Silva

110.
Stipe Miocic

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