Algebra, Pro Sports, and a Guy from Wisconsin


Recently I made one of those life decisions to conquer a fear that has haunted me since I was in the 9th grade.  For so many years I couldn’t imagine any reason why it would be important to address this fear.  But as my years in the business world progressed, I started to see why it just couldn’t be avoided.  I found ways to fake it, but privately, it haunted me.   So this year, I came clean, and I finally decided to do something about it.  And I decided to conquer: advanced algebra.

So this week I was sitting with Jim, my math teacher, and he told me a great little sports story I thought was worth sharing.  Regardless of what I’m doing, the topic of professional sports usually comes up.  I can find a way to correlate it to almost anything.  And my math teacher is originally from Wisconsin.  So I asked him – in my best Wisconsin accent of course – if he was a Packers fan, and he said, “My brother is, but I gave up professional sports a long time ago.”  And here is the story he told:

Back in the 1950s, Milwakee had a professional baseball team called the Milwaukee Braves.  As a young boy, I rooted for them – and in 1957, they won the World Series against the New York Yankees!  Soon afterward in 1966, they picked up and left for Atlanta.

In 1959, the Green Bay Packers hired (Offensive Coordinator from the championship-winning New York Giants) one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the game, Vince Lombardi.  The team ended up winning 6 NFL Championships, and then 2 Super Bowls: Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.  Now you know why it’s called The Lombardi Trophy!  In 1969, Coach Lombardi left Wisconsin and headed to Washington to coach the Redskins.  That lasted one year.  Coach Lombardi passed away from Colon Cancer in 1970.

Then, in 1969, the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team drafted a guy named Lew Alcindor.  He instantly became a superstar and NBA Rookie of the Year, followed by NBA MVP in the following year – 1971.  It was that year that the Bucks also won the NBA Finals against the Baltimore Bullets, and Alcindor, MVP of the Finals as well.  There was nothing Alcindor, the clear star of the team could do wrong!  Milwaukee had their man!  But Alcindor wasn’t happy in Milwaukee.  In 1975, he moved to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and official changed his name to: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

And that’s Jim’s story about why he steered away from sports in his early years.  Now he may look at this as though a bunch of the most successful coaches, teams and players of all time left him – so why be a sports fan, but I say – how lucky he was to have been in the right place at the right time in order to witness these great successes in the sports world!  And maybe, just maybe some of the lessons from these greats rubbed off in a way…

Now he gets to BE the coach, and draw from Lombardi to witness an even bigger success: Ali actually enjoying algebra!!!  (scarey)



PS: Do you know do you know how to calculate the price of a 2x$200 coupon/yr bond with an interest rate of 10%, over 30 years, and a par value of $15,000? I do. 🙂