• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Defending the Land

Rooting for the home team.

June 8, 2017

I have heard some claim that one of the qualities that distinguishes us as humans is our ability to recognize and interpret patterns. Such a skill can lead to such widely varying fields of study as Mathematics, Medicine, and even Astrology. I found myself thinking of this recently as Cleveland, Ohio faces an almost insurmountable deficit in the playoffs for the 2017 NBA championship. As we enter tonight’s game, we are down 0-3 in a best of four series. Alas, things do not look good for the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose tee shirts this year bear the motto “Defend the Land.”

However, before I join many fellow Clevelanders in giving up on this, and begin to quote those who point out that no team has ever come back from such a deficit to go on and win the title, I remember what happened last year. With a 1-3 deficit, many were saying that no team had ever won the title being in that position. And yet, that is exactly what the Cavaliers did. Although past history would predict that ultimate victory is unlikely, I teach statistics, and I know that very unlikely events can occasionally occur. As they say on advertisements for stock funds, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Perhaps it is my desire to not see the season end that is allowing me to have such a Pollyannaish view of things. I enjoy spending time with my family watching the games, and am thrilled when my teenage daughter actually asks me to join her in watching the games. I admit that I am not as an enthusiastic viewer as she is, and do not jump out of my chair to celebrate 3 point shots, but I truly enjoy the family time brought to us by a really amazing basketball team. And it is fun to be part of Cleveland when, after so many years of not winning, we finally have a team that we can all rally around.

Those years of not winning ended last year, when Cleveland became the unexpected champions in the last moments of the final game of the playoff series. What followed were parties the likes of which the city had not seen in half of a century. Perhaps it is selfish of us to want to win yet again, but can you really blame a city that had become known, at one time, as “the mistake on the lake?” No, those days are over, and good things are in the future for our city. Perhaps in the next week, perhaps in other seasons and other years, and most certainly in many ways that do not necessarily involve professional sports teams, our city has become a city of winners. Still, I know that, as this series unfolds, I will cheer loudly, along with my daughter and students, and hope for an event so rare that people who look for patterns in things are currently classifying it as not just “improbable,” but “impossible.”

And if we don’t win, maybe it is time to start watching baseball. This is, after all, June.

                                                                                   Go Cavs!!!



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