Football iuDo you realize that all the statistics, facts, figures and even strategies used in your favorite sport, favorite teams and players are all derived using mathematical calculations? 

Soccer is a perfect example of using math technique in sport because it's a highly calculated game with plenty of geometry involved with the connections built into the soccer field – rectangular field, an 8-yard by 6-yard goal area, a centre circle with a 10-yard diameter in the middle of the field, and quarter circles with 1-yard diameters around the corner flags. Teams play with eleven players on the field at a time, with ten field players and one goalkeeper. Coaches decide the formation according to the players’ talent. During the actual game, geometry appears as teams apply techniques and perform certain actions using geometrical concepts. 

Do Sports and Math Add Up?

March Madness begins with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season, and college basketball fans wait for predictions of sports writers and experts. However, there is one prediction that has a good chance of taking them to the winner’s bracket – that of Associate Professor Joel Sokol (at the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology). His love of basketball and fondness for math motivated him to perform mathematical analyses of previous basketball games and predict the NCAA winner. His initial research was simple but his later model outperformed all the other standard ways to predict winners of the tournament. For him, the combination of math and sports is more than a way to combine two loves. It's also a great way to motivate his students who are sports fans. They enjoy the challenge while also learning outside the typical curriculum.

Math In Sports Betting

A California State University professor of statistics, Mike Orkin, argues, “You really can't win at gambling unless you understand math. You don't have to have a Ph.D. but you do have to have a mathematical mind."  Orkin taught an accredited course on sports betting, horseracing and casino gambling. He notes that to understand odds in sports betting, you have to be able to compute your chances of winning and compare them with their actual payoff odds. People who do well in sports betting know some mathematics to work with a systematic method and process statistical information sensibly. 

Turning a Love For Sports Into a Successful Business

Although you may simply call it games, this is big business for many people.  Financial and competitive stakes in college and professional athletics is on the rise along with the complexity of a balanced schedule for all the league teams.  Consider the Sports Scheduling Group. This is a group of people who are uniquely talented who work alongside intercollegiate athletic conferences and professional sports leagues to get the most value out of their playing schedules. George Nemhauser, a serious academic, mathematician and sports fan turned his love for sports into business. He is one of the world’s experts in discrete optimization (a critical subject related to applied mathematics and computer science) with several hundred publications in the field. He attributes much of their success to “a unique combination of sports business and programming expertise using state-of-the-art technology and computing resources,” which have turned his interest for sports into a vast business empire.

Teaching Math Through Sports

Educators teaching mathematics and statistics face difficulties in keeping students engaged in the subject. However, the widespread interest in sports provides a huge opportunity to grab the students’ attention in math and statistics classes. Textbooks try to motivate students by introducing various applications, but this works only for students who are committed to a particular academic or career field.  Educators are building upon the common interests of students by connecting their studies to something that interests them and is relevant to them. Sports appeals to students across the globe and attracts individuals from a widely ranging population. 

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