Department of Physics and Astronomy: Publications and Other Research


Date of this Version

September 1997


Published in THE PHYSICS TEACHER Vol. 35, September 1997. Copyright 1997. Used by permission.


At some universities, football examples are used to motivate students in physics courses to study the law of kinematics and collisions. (In fact, it has been rumored that the number of such examples is inversely related the national ranking of the local football team.) In addition, pursuit-and-evasion strategies are often introduced in beginning calculus courses as a device for teaching mathematical modeling and problem solving. Some recent papers describe theoretical strategies for pursuit-and-evasion that are appropriate for a one-on-one situation in a football game. But what do players actually do in a real football game? We decided to look into this issue because an appropriate video clip was available, and because it gave us the motivation to become familiar with some video-analysis software (VideoPointTM, VideoGraphTM, etc) that has been designed for the physics classroom. Video analysis of sporting events might motivate students to learn to use these programs effectively in physics labs or for projects.

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