• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: A Wide World of Sports

A daughter who plays lacrosse.

February 18, 2016

When I teach Principles of Macroeconomics, I sometimes discuss problems arising from trying to define the Consumer Price Index using a “market basket of goods” whose price is tracked over time. I describe how, when I first started to study Economics, such a market basket included things like vinyl records and record players, and certainly did not contain things like computers or cell phones (smart or otherwise.) I found myself thinking of this recently when my daughter signed up to play a game that I had never heard of until I was an adult myself; lacrosse.

When I was growing up in the pre-Title IX days, there were few options for girls who wanted to participate in sports. My daughter, who has participated in almost every sport offered to her, laughs when I tell her that I thought of dance as my “sport,” a perspective I support by explaining that I once injured myself so seriously that I ended up in the hospital in need of surgery. She simply cannot imagine a world in which all young people do not participate in sports. I am happy that she is able to take advantage of these opportunities, opportunities that were not around only one generation ago.

Of course, her participating in a new sport means that I am going to have to learn the rules that go along with that sport. This is not always as easy as it sounds, as both my husband and I are not particularly athletic, and, unlike many of the parents, do not have a lifetime of experience to draw upon in watching the games she plays. There are several fellow soccer parents who still tease me that I once said that my daughter had gotten the soccer ball in “the basket” rather than in “the goal.” “What was that, Rosemarie?” they like to ask me as we gather on the sidelines to watch our children play. No, baskets are for basketball. I know that now.

I did find myself explaining to my father what this new sport was about, and, by the time I hung up the phone, had promised him that I would bring her by her orthodontist to be fitted for a mouth guard before things got more intense. Indeed, I was surprised to see that the boys playing the same sport came to practice with helmets and body armor, while the girls did not. I found myself hoping that I am not allowing my daughter to participate in something that is very dangerous. However, after watching several basketball games evolve into encounters that looked a lot like (American) football, I am confident that she can handle whatever it brings.

I am glad that my daughter is participating in sports, as it seems to bring the best out of my students who are athletes. I wish I knew more about this (wide?) world of sports that she inhabits, but I am doing my best to a supportive parent, despite my lack of knowledge.

Do any of my fellow “mamas” (probably much younger than me) have memories of participating in sports as young girls? Were they good memories, and did they help you grow into a confident woman? And, speaking of “dangerous sports,” I want to take a minute to wish my readers in Nevada and South Carolina wisdom as they, in the next few days, help our country move towards the next step in choosing a new president.



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