I have never been a sporty child, and I can’t imagine explaining to someone whose principal concerns are football scores about the importance of math for their future. I’m not suggesting that the two are mutually exclusive. However, this is a blog subject for a parent whose child thinks that they are. So if your child has a talent for sport, for talking back and they believe that they do not need math in their life you can tell them that sports people, in particular, sports announcers, need math. Here’s why:
First of all when sports announcers watch a game they have to be able to add and subtract pretty quickly. If one team gets a goal that gets added to their overall tally and that team is ahead of another by a certain number of points the announcer has to number crunch quickly without getting their calculator out.
Sometimes announcers have to speculate the overall result based on the current score. I don’t watch enough sport so here is an example, copy and pasted from the web, “In a baseball game, if Team A has six runs and Team B has two runs, three players on base and a player at bat, an announcer might predict a tie game if Team B’s batter were to hit a home run.”
Sports announcers are also very quick with their percentages and ratios. For example when they are commenting on a baseball game they have to know and adjust a player’s batting average. This is not their average score but their ratio of the number of hits to the total number of times at bat. Defining at bat is a skill in itself, a walk doesn’t count.
In between the action, sports announcers have to talk and a lot of that time they talk strategy. Sure, a lot of that strategy is based on their knowledge of a player’s strength and weaknesses but a lot of it is also based on arithmetic.
If you want to see how math can be applied to a strategy, have a read of this blog about soccer. Otherwise, listen out to the way announcers analyse stats to discuss what a team might do next. A good sports anchor will know the team he is watching inside out. They will know their odds of scoring a field goal by reviewing the team’s field goal percentage and they will apply that knowledge, especially when they have to ramble between plays.
Then, there are the sports that involve betting. When you are an announcer for a sport such as horse racing, listeners aren’t just interested in the winner because they are fans of the jockey, they want to know if they have made money on the race. Sports commentators have to evaluate the return on a $3 bet when Math Genius is first at the finish line.
So there you go. Sports and math are hardly incompatible. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and a healthy mind could improve your child’s chances of becoming a successful sports anchor.
Marina Gomer is a journalist and mother of one. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.