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Football Finances

  • Lesson
Number and Operations
Location: Unknown

In this activity, students analyze pictures of football stands to make estimates related to the attendance at the Super Bowl. The students will realize that estimates must, at times, be made with little background information and that a range of answers might be correct. Students also make estimates about the television audience.

To begin the lesson, lead a discussion about the Super Bowl. Depending upon their cultural backgrounds, some students may not be familiar with the Super Bowl. Thus, it is important for students who have watched the Super Bowl to share their experiences with other students in the class.

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Ask students to identify some of the expenses related to the Super Bowl. They may suggest the following expenses:

  • price of a ticket
  • ads/commercials on television
  • coaches and players’ salaries
  • cost of food at the game
  • security, maintenance, and other expenses

Ask students which of these costs are easier to estimate than others. Students may say that they need to do some research using internet resources to obtain relatively close estimates.

You may wish to give students time to explore the Super Bowl website. At this website, they can learn more about some of the finances and statistics of the Super Bowl.

Distribute a copy of the Football Finances Activity Sheet to each student.

pdficonFootball Finances Activity Sheet

Have the students read the introductory information and examine the pictures.

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Discuss the pictures with the students and have them identify techniques that they can use to make the best estimates possible.

Such techniques might include the following:

  • Students can answer the question, "How may people can sit on benches 10 yards long?"
  • Survey people about the number of hot dogs they eat at a football game.

Students should make their estimates on the information that is available.

Have students identify factors that will make it difficult for their estimates to be as accurate as they would like them to be.


J. David Keller, Daniel J. Brahier, and William R. Speer. The Arithmetic Teacher. January, 1993, 40(5). pp. 264‑77.

Assessment Options

You may wish to collect the students' Football Finances Activity Sheet and review their responses to the questions on the activity sheet.


  1. Students can identify variables (e.g., temperature at the stadium) that would affect the actual results.
  2. Have students gather information after the football game is over to see how close their estimates are.
  3. Have students make estimates of the number of souvenirs (i.e., pennants, sweatshirts, and hats) that will be purchased.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Estimate large numbers.
  • Make written predictions from pictures and other limited information.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Understand the meaning and effects of arithmetic operations with fractions, decimals, and integers.
  • Select appropriate methods and tools for computing with fractions and decimals from among mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil, depending on the situation, and apply the selected method.
  • Develop and use strategies to estimate the results of rational-number computations and judge the reasonableness of the results.