NFL Football and Mathematics: Fascinating and Fun

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NFL Football and Mathematics:  Fascinating and Fun
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

One of the B/R writers  made a comment on an article I wrote titled, "NFL Dreams Become NFL Realities."  He wrote:  "Fascinating."

He was impressed with a discussion of the combination of NFL data and mathematics.

I agreed that the blend of mathematics and NFL football data is a marvelous formula to engender more interest in mathematics, statistics, and analysis.

My own fascination with the subject area started when I recalled the respect an NFL player had for me when I was younger.  He seemed to have been intrigued with my ability to do math and my love for math.

Since he and I studied under the same math professor years ago, I decided I would ask him what grade he made in a particular class.  The tall, tough math professor was always firm.  He had high expectations for all of his students. 

It did not matter that they were on the college football team.  These younger players had to study and do a very good job in his math class.  Otherwise, he would give them the grade they earned.

My friend, the retired NFL player, told me he made an A from this tough professor.  I said to myself, "He must be smart because the professor did not cut any slack when he gave grades."

I was a math major and all I could manage to earn was a B from this tough professor.  I never took another class from him.  He, I thought, is going to "mess up" my GPA.

Forty-six years later, after years (roughly twenty-six years) of no contact with the retired NFL player, I decided to check on him.  I actually had been told that he had passed away.  It took years before I slowed down to do my own research to see what happened to him.

Well, in February, 2007, I made a phone call to a local newspaper in the retired player's hometown.  The retired NFL player was alive.

I decided to go see him.  When we finally made an appointment to meet, I was uneasy. 

I am so much older.  I thought, "I hope he does not expect me to look the same as I did when we met in the Science Building 47 years ago."

The retired NFL player is the inspiration behind my research on sports and mathematics.  He was an outstanding NFL player.  I became a fairly well-known mathematics professor.

One day, as we sat in a park under a pavilion, playing dominoes, the retired NFL player said, "You with your brains, and me, with my data which was supposed to be so good--let's put our heads together and get me out of this."

It took several days before I realized how profound his comment was.  He had shown his genius.  He, in his symbolic expression, was telling me to "go" and "blend' his gift with my gift.

Finally, the beauty of it all popped out, in front of my eyes:  sports and mathematics.

Several months later, I made a phone call to Canton, Ohio.  After speaking with the education coordinator, I decided I have to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The education coordinator informed me of a publication that the HOF published.  I downloaded a lengthy report and here is what I found, showing topics and page numbers:

 

Mathematics

Fantasy Football Experience....................................61

Comparing the Same Data Differently ................62-63

Data Collection and Analysis ..............................64-65

Find Your Team’s Bearings ................................66-67

Shapes All Around Us ..............................................68

Dollars and Cents at Concession ............................69

Be an NFL Statistician..............................................70

Math Football ..........................................................71

Data Analysis ..........................................................72

Football Math Mania ................................................73

How Far is 300 Yards? ......................................74-75

Football Salary Comparisons..............................76-77

Using Variables With NFL Scores ......................78-80

How Many People Attended NFL Games? ........81-83

What’s In a Number? ..........................................84-85

Tackling Football Math ........................................86-99

A Day at the Game ....................................87-89

How Old are They? ........................................90

NFL Air Travel ............................................91-92

Conversions in Football ..................................93

Super Bowl Numbers ......................................94

Top Active Rushers ....................................95-96

Super Bowl Thunder ..................................97-98

Miscellaneous Math Activities..........................99

So, my dear B/R family and NFL fans, do not be surprised when you read my articles and see a bit of mathematics sprinkled inside of them, giving them a different flavor than most sports articles.

Just remember:  NFL football data is both fascinating and fun.  Spicing up your creative pieces with a bit of mathematics and statistics is just what you need, so that as Goldilocks says:  It's not too hot; it's not too cold.  It is just right!

Teacher Resource - from Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio

 

 

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