Team Sports

When I was in high school I took a gym class called Team Sports, where 30 or so students spent a semester competing in a variety of sports, including basketball, indoor soccer, badminton, floor hockey, water polo, archery, tennis, and softball. Everyone basically earned an A in the class, but there was a separate list that ranked everyone depending on their performance in the different individual and team sports. Every week, the numbers would be updated and a kind of MVP list would be posted by the locker room. (Needless to say, coming out on top of the standings for the semester was highly coveted!)

I’ve been noodling about ways math could be implemented into a class like this. Maybe instead of playing the whole class, you play half and then watch (collect data) for the other half. Then you have to present something (ie: a graph comparing 5 players’ shooting %, or how equally distributed scoring was on one team compared to another, or score difference with respect to one team (y-axis) through the length of the game/time (x-axis).

Or maybe it’s the students responsibility to weigh all the variables and create the model that calculates the MVP list.

Or maybe (and this would never, ever be allowed in a public school due to the gambling and the fact that you could really hurt some people’s feelings) you ask students to put on their bookie hats, create their own money lines (backing it up with statistical evidence), then try to turn a profit by taking and placing bets with other students/bookies in a kind of mock Vegas. Again, this would never ever fly, but it’d be fun. And engaging. And it’d get students thinking about probability, and descriptive models, and risk/reward, and analyzing data — all things we want people to do in the real world — a lot more than I know I ever did taking Prob & Stat in high school.