How to Tie Super Bowl Sunday to the Classroom

By Bryan Toporek — February 01, 2013 3 min read
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As the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers prepare to clash in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday in New Orleans, a number of resources have been popping up for educators looking to tie aspects of the game back to their classrooms.

A Jan. 29 article on Edutopia highlighted seven Super Bowl lesson plans gathered over the years, ranging from the New York Times’ advice on teaching the Super Bowl to Larry Ferlazzo’s 2009 compilation of websites where English-language learners can learn about the game. (Ferlazzo currently writes a blog for Education Week Teacher.)

The Edutopia piece also points back to an article that first appeared on TeachHub last year, Top 12 Super Bowl Activities for the Classroom. (Who doesn’t love top-10 lists?)

If those resources aren’t enough to whet your Super Bowl teaching appetite, a Jan. 28 article on the website of School Library Journal offers even more suggestions. That piece points to a website on using Super Bowl ads in the classroom, organized by Frank Baker, the creator of the Media Literacy Clearinghouse.

According to Baker’s site, educators are legally allowed to record and use Super Bowl advertisements in their instruction.

SportsonEarth.com published another Super Bowl/academic connection on Jan. 30 that I can’t help but point out. Mike Tanier, a current writer for the site, just so happens to also be the former high school math teacher of Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ starting quarterback.

Tanier reflected back on his time teaching Flacco at Audubon High School in Audubon N.J., saying that the QB was “logical” and “never needed to be redirected.” (Tanier calls this “polite teacher speak for ‘sit down and shut up.’ ”)

And in case you missed it, EdWeek’s very own Teaching Now blog put up a post about what teachers could learn from the NFL as a prelude to the Super Bowl two years ago.

Switching gears to the football side of things for a moment (this is a sports blog, after all): Last year during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL held a health and safety football clinic in partnership with USA football for roughly 50 youths. That marked the first time the NFL combined their player health and safety message with a more traditional youth football clinic, according to a spokesperson from the league.

[UPDATE, 6:50 PM: This year, the NFL held numerous NFL Play 60 Youth Football Clinics for children ages 6-12 in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. According to a league spokesperson, every child who participated in one of the clinics learned about concussion awareness and treatment and about the importance of hydration. There was also a USA Football Heads Up Football exhibit in which parents and children can learn about proper tackling techniques.]

A number of current and former NFL players and coaches also weighed in recently on whether they’d allow their own children to play football, based on the wave of sports-related concussion research that’s emerged in recent years.

John Harbaugh, the Ravens’ head coach, said football “is a huge part of our educational system in this country and it’s going to be around for a long time,” according to the Jan. 31 NFL Health and Safety update. In contrast, Ravens safety Bernard Pollard told CBSsports.com’s Clark Judge on Jan. 25 that he didn’t think the league would be in existence 30 years from now.

“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off,’ ” Pollard said to Judge. “It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”

President Barack Obama shared his views on football’s future recently in an interview with The New Republic. He urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association to “think about” the safety of football and said he tended to be more worried about college players than NFL players.

Photo: People photograph the Roman numerals for NFL Super Bowl XLVII as they are silhouetted against the morning sky on Friday in New Orleans. The city will host Sunday’s football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.