“Are tall people really better at basketball than short people?”
Well, the infinite number of YouTube videos that highlight the dunks and rebounds made by taller players over their opponents sure makes me believe it! When I was in school, I was barely 5 feet off the ground, but I imagined I had a pretty good chance of making it to the team. When I was told the kid who was 6’1 had made it in place of me, it bruised my ego. I got back home, and as part of my little pity-party, I got down to investigating why taller people have an advantage in a game.
“Wow! Being good at math does have its perks!”
I gathered samples of people (My enthusiastic pals) of various heights and asked them to shoot baskets from the foul line in my backyard. The plan was simple -- The number of baskets they made out of ten shots would measure their ability and skill at the game.
Now let’s look at the variables here -- The player’s height and the number of baskets they score. For those who aren't getting head or tail about what I’m saying, let me simplify it a little. A variable is a quantity that changes. You may remember talking about ‘independent’ and ‘dependent’ variables when you learned how to read graphs in school, right? The independent variable was the x-axis (horizontal) label, and the dependent variable was the y-axis (vertical) label.
I was x years old in the year x2
Augustus De Morgan(when asked about his age)
Coming back to my basketball experiment, the people's height in my sample cannot be changed by choosing these particular people; the values of the independent variable have been determined.
The number of scores is unknown, making that the dependent variable. So, the independent variable is the quantity that you control. The former's value is only what you determine it to be, while the dependent variable is what the experimenter measures. It is the quantity that changes when you change the independent variable.
Okay, so I did find that taller people do have a better shot (pun intended!) than we shorties do. Yes, I know it’s not the best news but figuring out the mathematics behind my rejection sure helped me accept defeat better. So what would be my advice to you underdogs? Always calculate your chances of making it, so you’re prepared to handle the result better than I initially did.