OT - Why I Still Play Football, by John Urschel

Submitted by gwrock on March 21st, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Thought this was a good little read about why a particular NFL player continues to play football, potentially risking a promising career in mathematics.

Regarding balancing playing vs. brain injury risk:

Naturally, I believe that I have a certain insight into this dilemma, due to my non-athletic pursuits. In particular, I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in mathematics, all with a 4.0, and numerous published papers in major mathematical journals. I am a mathematical researcher in my spare time, continuing to do research in the areas of numerical linear algebra, multigrid methods, spectral graph theory and machine learning. I’m also an avid chess player, and I have aspirations of eventually being a titled player one day.





March 21st, 2015 at 3:38 PM ^

but i played 'real' football until 42 and only quit b/c we moved back home to michigan.  10 yrs later i still feel sharp mentally, but i guess time will ultimately tell. 


March 21st, 2015 at 3:59 PM ^


most of our starters played pro or D-1 ball, as was true of the teams we usually played.  i started, but was the sole hockey player since i  played hockey at our favorite school.  over the years we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity as each game would be dedicated to any one of a number of charities such as a children's burn center, DARE, police athletic league, etc. 

games were generally played in smaller college stadiums, but with notable exceptions we also played at the pro stadiums which was fun - jack murphy, the coliseum, nj giants/jets field for instance.  we played in front of as many as 20K for the big games, nothing by today's college standards but when college is over you never think you're going to have that chance again so i think i appreciated alot more.  most games were televised too.  my kids love to watch the tapes/CD's. 


March 21st, 2015 at 4:20 PM ^

One of my high school math teachers explained to me that in its highest form, mathematics is like art.  The difference between "solve for x" and "explain why x turns out to be what it is", if you will.  One is just a means to an end, whereas the other is a fundamental understanding of the beauty of the relationship between numbers and lines.

Of course, it's never taught the latter way, so most people just learn to resent it.


March 21st, 2015 at 4:45 PM ^

One does not need a PhD (or even a degree) to do research and publish in a journal. As long as the research is good enough, it will be published.

Obviously a PhD would help quite a deal since it would build the necessary skills to perform quality research. Researching and publishing without a PhD is certainly rare, but one great exception is the physicist Freeman Dyson.


March 22nd, 2015 at 2:16 AM ^

that I lived easily on 25K a year as well.  If he has any plans of getting married and having kids (and maybe he doesn't) I somehow doubt he will still be living on 25K a year.