Saturday, November 20, 2010

Football and Mathematics

No doubt that football has become the U.S. favorite pastime. People tail gate in the stadiums' parking lot many hours before the start of a game. Many more people are loyal and frantic fans who carry funny signs or dress down when attending the games. Those who do not physically attend are still following the game through their fantasy football teams, betting with friends or online, watching it in sports bars or at home, or just listening the game on the radio in their way to work or home. In other words, football has become ubiquitous!

Southern Tier Youth Football Conference, by jdanvers, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  jdanvers 

But do you know what else is also ubiquitous? Mathematics! Yes, math is everywhere! NBC and Scientific American has created a series of videos and articles about the "Science of Football." I encourage you to visit the following links:

and watch/read how mathematics plays a major factor in making football U.S. favorite past time. Enjoy!

What Do a Submarine, a Rocket and a Football Have in Common?

Why the prolate spheroid is the shape for success

Baseballs, basketballs and many other sports balls rely on a spherical, uniform design that makes them easy to shoot, throw and hit. A football, however, owes its two-dimensional origin to the ellipse rather than the circle, giving the pigskin its prolate spheroid shape, which has a polar axis that is greater than its equatorial diameter.
This shape makes the football more difficult throw than a spherical ball. But, as a prolate spheroid, a football experiences less drag as it cuts through the air, which explains why you can toss a football farther than a spherical ball such as a basketball or soccer ball that is roughly the same size and weight.
Aircraft, submarines and rockets share the basic design principles as footballs in that their shapes are elongated in an effort to reduce drag.
prolate spheroids cannot match the distance of one class of geometric shape: A flying disc (Frisbee) or ring (Aerobie) not only have slim profiles that reduce drag and rotation that increase stability, but they also create lift, enabling them to carry quite far.Read more at

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