Thank God I'm a Clemson fan...
Saturday was an awful day for me watching the Raiders fall to the Texans; but Monday was a different story. My Clemson Tigers won the College Football Playoff Championship with a thrilling victory over Alabama. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever watched and was definitely well worth staying up till almost 1 on a Monday night. Although I could talk about the physics of Deshaun Watson holding up the National Championship Trophy, that would be a little too similar to my last embarrassment of a blog post. Instead I want to talk about the rotational velocity of Deshaun Watson during one especially big hit put on him during the game Monday. As I was watching the game and I saw Watson helicopter through the air, my first thought wasn't: "Is he ok???" It was more: "Hey! what a great idea for a blog post!" So here I am, about to calculate the rotational velocity of Deshaun Watson.
As you can see by watching the video of the hit below, Deshaun was sent into the air and from hit to re-contact with the turf, his flight took approximately one second. He rotated almost exactly 1.5 times and therefore, using rotational kinematics, we can find that he was rotating at over 9 radians per second. Converted to rpms and that would equal 90 almost exactly. Now most people cant put 90 rpms into context, so here's another way to look at it: Deshaun Watson is 6'3", which means layed straight out, he forms the diameter of a circle that is 75" long. When calculated, the circumference of that circle is 235.7 inches, and knowing that his head and feet traveled 1.5 circumferences, we can calculate that his body parts on the outer edge of the circle whipped around at 19.9 feet per second. Converted to mph, thats 13.4 miles per hour! That may not seem like alot but just imagine sprinting at someone and colliding helmet to helmet at over 13 mph. That wouldn't feel too good!
This is exactly what could have happened to Deshaun's head but with the additional force of that other person- running at speeds of up to 20 mph- exerted on his head. Although I know the math is far from perfect, thinking about football through physics like this makes one appreciate how these athletes put themselves on the line for the games they love.