• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Cleveland!

A championship.


June 30, 2016

One of the goals of Economics is often to predict what will happen in the economy before it happens. What will be the effect of the Brexit vote on the stock market? What will happen if the Federal Reserve increases interest rates? What will a change in the minimum wage do the welfare of those who earn this wage? Of course, such predictions are just that, predictions, and can sometimes be incorrect. I found myself thinking of this recently as I recalled the many predictions that the Golden State Warriors would win a second NBA title, back to back with the one it won last year.

When I was in college, I found myself part of several celebrations as our college basketball team made or won playoffs in the NCAA tournaments. I remember one such celebration that took crowds of students to a central intersection where they congregated as a cheering mob, crossing the streets as the lights changed, yelling at the top of their lungs. I recall, in the chaos, someone saying that we should walk, as a crowd, to the White House. This was, obviously, in the days before the threat of terrorism made such a journey something that would alarm those in charge of national security. Those occasions are the making of some the most vivid memories of my college days. 

While I was on vacation miles away, my neighbors in Cleveland, Ohio, recently participated in celebrations of their own as they celebrated the first time in fifty-two years that a professional sports team from our city has won a national championship of any kind. After months of holding our breaths as members of the Cavaliers basketball team attempted, and usually made, three point shots from what seemed like miles away from the basket, the tournament was over. Despite a record-breaking season that was, in itself, awesome, the Golden State Warriors did not win a second National Tournament. This was despite the t-shirts that some reported were being sold in the San Francisco airport with two trophies and a star player on them. Instead, Cleveland has erupted in celebrations that it has not seen in a generation.

Although I looked forward to moving to Cleveland in 1990, some of the people around me in New England were less than excited for me. One priest even offered to pray for me- that I not get the job I was interviewing for! These were the days when Cleveland was often a joke on late-night comedy shows on television, and stories of a river catching on fire preceded me. The sports teams were not very successful, especially when compared to the Yankees that I had grown up cheering for, and many thought that Lake Erie could not be a substitute for the Atlantic Ocean that I was leaving behind. Still, there were many reasons to move to Cleveland, including a Jesuit college where I would teach, where the president had attended my own Ph.D. program and had gone on to help write the Catholic Bishops’ letter on the economy in 1985. Before he died, I saw myself taking my own research in the economics of nonprofit organizations and bringing it into dialogue with what he was writing. And so, without looking back, I rented an apartment in Shaker Heights with phone number that began with the area code of “216.” Years later, “216” would become the motto of the successful trip to a national championship, as, in order to win that trophy, the team had to win sixteen games, and therefore go “to sixteen.”

Of course, my move to Cleveland was a move that saved my life. Another 216 area code was found at the Cleveland Clinic, where lifesaving measures began only four days after my health insurance started. It is also the area code where I met my husband, and the one from which I adopted my daughter. Indeed, almost the entire life that now matters to me was waiting here in the city that was once called “the mistake on the lake” and now is called “the home of the 2016 NBA champions.”

Today, I just call it “home.”

Happy Fourth of July to all of my readers, and Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for winning the 2016 NBA Championship!


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