Maths and Sport

As a child I wasn’t particularly sporty. However, I did try. In my 6th year of school I did crash Higher PE which was certainly an eye opener to how bad at sport I really was. I was forever put in the good team, instead of the really good team but this didn’t mean to say I didn’t try. It just wasn’t meant for me. For my higher performance I did dance, as this is the one sport – even though I was constantly reminded by the boys in my class that it wasn’t a sport – I really excel in. As part of this I had to analyse and evaluate my performance looking at how I stayed in time with the music and with the others I was dancing with etc. And now I think about it, I was using some maths that I didn’t realise before. Although this is the basics of maths such as counting to 8 to make sure I do each move on the right beat, it still counts and is one of the Basic Ideas talked about by Liping Ma.

In the session yesterday with Richard, we were looking at how maths is used in sport in particular football. It is used in the score, timing so you know the length of the match, formations, points, the league table and I’m sure there could be more. We then went on to look at a table of the first ever premier league season, which is very different to how we see it today. We then had to convert it to show how it would be shown today. This shows how maths evolves and how things can be simplified to make it easier for the consumer/customer to observe and understand. It’s also important to be able to understand many Basic Ideas of maths in order to be able to enjoy the things we do. You wouldn’t think maths had a lot to do with football but if you couldn’t count, read numbers, tell the time etc. you wouldn’t be able to enjoy such simple things in sport as the majority of us can.

The very first league table.

The updated version of the table.

We also created our own/adapted current sports to have new rules/equipment in order to make some of the mathematical features more prominent/important. I think this helped identify why some things are in place in sport e.g. changing a win in football from 2 points to 3 points as it can make for a more exciting game or a more exciting league/title race. It also helped identify what mathematics is actually involved within different sports when you wouldn’t really notice them otherwise.

Ma, Liping. (2010). Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: teachers’ understanding of elementary mathematics in China and the United States. New York: Routledge.

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