Curriculum Tackles Economics Through Lens of Sports

In this Money Matters report, Time Warner Cable News' Tara Lynn Wagner takes you to a White Plains High School classroom where students are learning about economics through the lens of sports.

It's not every day you see teens discussing taxes, but this isn't your everyday economics class. 

Jonathan Joseph, an economics teacher at White Plains High School, is one of three teachers this year to receive the Council for Economic Education’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Teaching Champion Awards, for a curriculum he developed that tackles economics through the lens of sports.

"I always have been looking for opportunities to give kids a way to take who they are and the things that they care about in their lives and make it relevant in a classroom,” he says.

The course covers the same ground as any econ class, but with a spin that puts the conversation in familiar terms for the students who chose to enroll.

"How does an NBA team decide how to use a salary cap? You know, the supply and demand of secondary ticket markets,” Joseph says.

And of course the big question: how to avoid going broke, a problem that's sidelined many a former pro.

"I mean, they go broke the same way the rest of us go broke which is they spend more money than they have.  That’s obviously something we want to teach kids, the value of saving and being responsible with money,” says Joseph.

"He gives us a salary, we learn how to spend it. Things like that, we learn and we use as we go out into life,” says TJ Vasquez, a senior.

"In the future obviously I'm going to have to pay taxes and do all that stuff so learning about that is definitely nice,” says Gehrig Hauser, a senior.

"His main thing is teaching you like how to function as a person in life,” says Mia Tucker, a senior.

Economics and Sports class is an honors level class. The students who sign up opt for a more rigorous experience because it’s a subject they connect with.  Not that sports is the only way to get kids interested in economics.  Joseph believes his idea can easily be applied to other interests like food or fashion. 

"No matter what you look at, there’s some economics lesson you can pull out of it that will engage kids and make it more meaningful for them so that they really walk away with something valuable that they can use going forward,” he notes.

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