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Math Illuminating Sports

Multiple columns on this website have focused on resources focusing on the mathematics underlying the playing and understanding of various sports. And, the columns will continue...

A recent addition is the MAA's book Mathematics and Sports. To produce the book, editor Joseph Gallian edited an interesting collection of essays that were originally submitted for the 2010 Mathematics Awareness Month.

In the forward, Gallian states that sports are "an ideal venue to demonstrate the illuminating power of mathematics to a larger audience." So, let the mathematical illumination begin.

The content is orgaized by sport, not the mathematics involved:

  • Baseball (4 articles)
  • Basketball (3 articles)
  • Football (4 articles)
  • Golf (4 articles)
  • NASCAR (1 article)
  • Soccer (1 article)
  • Tennis (2 articles)
  • Track and Field (5 articles)
Lots to explore: taking advantage of coin flips in overtimes...modeling how fast a human can run...the likelihood of streaks...producing a bend in a kicked soccer ball...tire troubles on the race track...and improving one's jump shot through mathematics (if only I could still jump!).

So, if you like mathematics and sports, the book is a winner. And if, you like sports but maybe not mathematics, then use this book to get illuminated...and perhaps have your opinion changed!