Preparing Boys for Life

John Urschel presents "Thinking Quantitatively" at Best for Boys Speaker Series

John Urschel, a former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and a mathematician, spoke about his time as an athlete and a scholar at The Haverford School’s Best for Boys event on Oct. 21, 2019. Urschel signed copies of his book, Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football, after the lecture.

Urschel, who is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discussed the important balance between athletics and academics, the power of education, and why strong mathematics skills are important for everyone. 

“Today, there can be a lot of confusion and ambiguity about what is fact and fiction," said Urschel.

"If you don’t have strong quantitative skills, you’re much more likely to be misled. These are the skills that help you interpret information and make good decisions. This includes things like making a purchase, like buying a car or a house, budgeting, deciding on a loan, choosing a job, and well … the list goes on and on. If you have strong quantitative skills, you’re more likely to recognize false claims and correctly interpret things that you’re told."

Urschel went on to share examples of what he called the dangers of not being trained quantitatively. He also shared lessons from both the playing field and the classroom. Urschel played collegiate football at Penn State, where he received a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and spent three years in the NFL before retiring in 2017. His active research areas at M.I.T. include convex geometry, graph theory, machine learning, and numerical analysis. 

Watch highlights below, or view photos from the event >