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Engage Students with Sports Content on Maps101

Posted on October 17 2021

Engage Students with Sports Content on Maps101

Dear Educator,

As educators, we are regularly focused on engaging our students. Without their initial interest, it is difficult to help them practice the skills they need to be successful in their careers. One arena that engages all genders is sports. Many American students spend a great deal of their time in organized sports. Sports heroes and heroines become cultural leaders, especially to younger people who are looking for role models to emulate. This week, we are taking a look at a wide variety of content geared toward hooking your students.

Geography News Network

First, let’s start with arguably “The Greatest”—he proclaimed that title often! Muhammad Ali was not only an important sports figure in his time, but his commitment to his beliefs and his overall integrity make him an invaluable role model today. Have students read more about Ali in this Geography News Network Article.


Geography News Network

Title IX is a part of the Education Amendment Act of 1972, which addresses civil rights access to sports in education environments that receive federal aid from the Department of Education.  Approximately 17,600 local school districts are affected. Largely, Title IX is intended to provide access to sports regardless of sex. Through this GNN article, your students will meet some amazing female athletes in sports that are especially nontraditional for women.


In 2020, the National Football League celebrated its 100th anniversary. While stadiums were mostly unfilled last year, this year’s season has seen the return of fans to the stands. This map shows the ten largest football stadiums in the country.

Geography News Network

The media discusses the dangers of playing football, even in high school. But did you know that cheerleading is by far the most dangerous high school sport? This GNN article delves into this topic and addresses a sport few realize is as difficult—and dangerous—as it is.



SEL Activity

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, was a Black man who converted to Islam. He changed his name to no longer represent the name given to him through the enslavement of his ancestors. He also lost many of the prime years of his sporting life for his stance on refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. Discuss with students Ali’s actions and what they feel about his actions. What value or values do students have that they might similarly defend, regardless of the pressure to concede? Do students think Ali is a role model, and if so, why?

Geography News Network

This week’s GeoJournal includes two GNN articles. There are several more biographies on sports figures and of course, these articles are released weekly, so there is always new content to bring to students’ attention. At the end of each article, scroll to the bottom to find the Supporting Materials and Resources. These materials provide critical-thinking skills questions that make effective prompts for discussion. The resources include the sources used for the data for the article. These can be used for students to cite text evidence and as models for their own research. There are also additional vetted, age-appropriate resources students can use to extend the content. 


Mapping Skills

And of course, we have maps! Geographic and mapping skills lag in most school districts. Our maps, such as “The Ten Largest U.S. Football Stadiums in the U.S.” are ideal for quickly providing opportunities for increasing these skills. They can also be a springboard for multiple educational opportunities. For example, any map with numbers, such as this one, can be used for creating easy equations, calculations, and comparisons. Maps with multiple points of interest, such as different stadiums, lend themselves to be used as points of research. Depending on your subject area, you may have students focus on the population and demographics of the area surrounding the stadium and how this city can support an NFL team; the economics of football in the city, such as support businesses like restaurants and hotels that rely on games for income; a timeline of the team in the city; biographies of players; stadium design comparisons or designs that take weather and climate into account; etc. Any map with multiple points of interest lends itself to further exploration in this way.

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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