Math and football: Make the Super Bowl fun for squares and athletes

Super Bowl parties have a way of bringing a diverse range of people under one roof.

This weekend, you can walk into any household in America and find the following: Patriots fans and Falcons fans (obviously), Northerners and Southerners, crying and laughing. There’s the friend who doesn’t care about football enough to know what a touchback is, and the friend who eats all the chips before halftime.

But no matter the rivalries and differences, all students enjoying the game on Sunday night have the same dreadful reality the following day: math homework.

Alas, football is a numbers game. To make things interesting, we can add an entertaining side game of graphs and guessing to the mix. Even those who are only here for the commercials and halftime show will enjoy keeping score in this math-friendly game.

How to create and play Super Bowl Squares

The game works by randomly assorting digits 0-9  across the X- and Y- axes; either axis represents a team. The scores at the end of each quarter correspond with one of the random squares, so whomever player “owns” a random square at the end of the quarter is eligible to win regardless of how their rooting team is playing.



First, assign the inside squares.

Each participant pays to put their name on any random empty square in the lighter shade. $1 per square is a good starting point (if you are putting money on the line). Everyone signs their squares, not knowing yet what numbers they’ll get. Take turns choosing until all squares are filled.

Second, fill in the X- and Y- axis.

Now that the lighter squares have names, draw numbers 0-9 from a hat and fill them in the X-axis (Patriots in this case). Draw again and do the same for the Falcons on the Y-axis.

Finally, sit back and watch.

At the end of each quarter, check the last digit of each team’s points and find their intersection on your board. For example:

1st Quarter: New England 13, Atlanta 7

Now find (3, 7) on your graph and – ah! Bob took that coordinate earlier! He wins ____ (whatever you decided was the payout / prize for the first quarter).


2nd Quarter: New England 16, Atlanta 14

Going into halftime now. Find (6, 4) and the lucky winner gets the second payout.

Feel free to get creative with the rewards for each category to make it interesting: for example, the total winnings could be spread evenly across all four quarters, or perhaps the winners at the end of the second and fourth quarters just happen to get a larger reward than the winners of the first and third. All up to you.

Now, enjoy your company and American sports while you have the time; for tomorrow, your real math homework is due.

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