Football, Mathematics, and Science
It is fall...school is back in session...and for some, all weekend thoughts drift to football. Yet, as math teachers, there must be a way to make some connections of mathematics to football.
The obvious connections are...wait, what are they? A good resource is Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of NebraskaLincoln...and a former tackle for Cal Tech. First, he has produced a series of 21 threetofiveminute video segments on the physics of football...unfortunately, the NFLsponsored series will be shown only overseas as part of an international sports program called "Blast!"
Also, Gay has written the text The Physics of Football." Though physics supplants mathematics in the title, mathematics is present throughout the book both as a language and as a modeling tool.
Consider these ideas covered in the book:
 Newton's Laws relative to tackling and blocking
 The relation between the growing size of linemen and average kinetic energy in the "pit"
 Modeling the West Coast offense
 The football in flightparabolic punts, hang time vs. range, and spiral passes vs. lame ducks
 Field goal kicking strategies...when, where, angles, and how
 Modeling a fumbled or bouncing football
Now, when used with students (along with the suggested web sites), the book will have more success if the students are able to explore both the mathematics and the physics. You might even get a coach or two involved!
