Using ‘Madden’ Football Video Game to Teach Math and Science

By Bryan Toporek — November 11, 2015 2 min read
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Cross-posted from the Schooled in Sports blog.

For years, football fans have eagerly awaited the release of the latest in the “Madden” video game series. This December, in conjunction with Discovery Education and the NFL Players Association, EA Sports will release a special version of “Madden” that aims to teach math and science to 5th through 9th graders.

In “Madden NFL: Football by the Numbers,” which will go live at on Dec. 1, students must rely upon math and science concepts to successfully complete football plays. On offense, for instance, students will need to decide upon the angle and velocity at which a quarterback should throw to a pass-catcher. While playing defense, students must use probability to determine which formations to choose based on their opponents’ downs and distance.

“This is an amazing new program to reach kids and engage them in math and science, and we’re excited to be a part of it,” said Anthony Stevenson, vice president of marketing for Electronic Arts, in a statement. “We’ve always strived for “Madden NFL” to be a teaching tool for the sport of football, and now we’re marrying the art of the video game to the science behind our young fans’ favorite sport, teaching them both the fundamentals of the sport and the math that fuels it.”

The program will be available at no cost to educators, parents, and students.

This new “Madden” game won’t be the first to make the connection between sports and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts in recent years. Back in 2013, NBC Learn joined together with the United States Golf Association and Chevron Corp. to launch a 10-part online series exploring the science behind the game of golf. Less than a year later, NBC Learn partnered with the National Science Foundation and NBC Olympics to create an online video series called “Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.” The National Aeronautics and Space Administration joined the party in February 2014, creating a series called “NASA STEM Mania” that used sports to teach STEM subjects.

The NFL, in particular, has also shown interest in using football to help students in school. Last year, NFL chief marketing officer Mark Waller also spoke with the Wall Street Journal about how the league hopes to use fantasy football to bolster students’ math skills.

It’s a complex game, fantasy. You should be able to learn a lot, particularly around math. How many points do I need? How many points does this player get? We’re also trying to work with groups to get the concept of fantasy based into the curriculum of elementary schools. If you love football and you teach them math through football, the chances are you may teach them better math and more quickly.

This new “Madden” venture may benefit students in more ways than one. According to a study published in August 2014 in the journal Psychology of Popular Media, high schoolers who played sports-related video games were significantly more likely to participate in sports.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.