As we wrote in our recent Team Spirit guide, your team needs to be motivated and engaged off the field in order to perform on the field. One way you can fuel those juices — when you’re not delivering a passionate speech of your own, that is — is by exposing your players to some old fashioned sports inspiration in audio form.
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Best Sports Podcasts
Not all the podcasts on our list are motivational; some will educate and inform, instead. But the more passionate your players are about the game they play, the hungrier they’ll be to improve. During your next long bus ride to an away game or tournament, flip on one of these sports podcasts — the time will pass that much quicker.
The Bill Simmons Podcast
As The Boston Sports Guy for ESPN, Simmons was one of the world’s most widely read sportswriters, and a pioneer for Internet sports writing and blogging. Similarly, he then became an influential voice at the dawn of podcasting in 2007. He’s since moved his pod from ESPN to his own site, The Ringer; but it’s still one of the most coveted sports podcasts out there, with Simmons welcoming high-profile guests and longtime pals like Cousin Sal.
Against the Rules
Of all people to host a sports podcast, we couldn’t think of many people better than Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball and The Blind Side. On Against the Rules, Lewis attacks sports topics the way he always has, but this time his angle is fairness. Over 40 to 60 minutes, he tells stories relating to referees, judges, and those whose mission in life is to make sports fair.
I’m Not You
If you need to choose one podcast to play on the team bus on the way to a big game, this is it. On this sports motivation series, host and former NFL running back Olaniyi Sobomehin aims to show his listeners how they can become, according to his website, “a fearless, dominant and supremely confident competitor.” It works.
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The Drunk Athlete is podcast magic, born of one of those great ideas you and your buddies once had, but then realized it could never happen. Except it did. Host Erin Truslow invites professional athletes to sit down with her, have a few drinks, and tell stories about their playing days. Talk about a dream-come-true.
Throwback by Sports Illustrated
Leave it to one of the best content creators sports has ever seen to enter the podcast game — and immediately crush it. SI’s Throwback is only a few months old, but it’s already got its listeners begging for another season. On S1, soccer journalist Grant Wahl deep dives the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup victory and explores its origins earlier in the decade.
Men in Blazers
Men in Blazers is just what it sounds like. Men. Wearing blazers. But okay, they do more than that. They talk football (a.k.a. soccer),and they do it in their natural British accents. Sold yet? The two Brits hosting “MiB” are Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, and their goal is simple: making soccer America’s sport of the future. Since, NBC brought the podcast overseas, North Americans simply can’t get enough of these blokes.
Just like Sports Illustrated, everything ESPN does is gold. So it’s no surprise they have a killer podcast too. Really, it’s just a collection of various audio from ESPN Radio that they load into podcast form. But still, we love the idea of having ESPN audio content at our disposal on demand and on-the-go.
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The Two Mikes
The so-called “odd couple of sports broadcasting” once got together on their podcast every week to discuss the latest in British sports. Unfortunately, the two split in April 2019 and have yet to reconcile or work together since. Nonetheless, we have about a year’s worth of The Two Mikes podcasts we can go back and binge listen to!
Sports? with Katie Nolan
You could call Katie Nolan the female Bill Simmons, but you’d be understating it. So don’t. She’s an unapologetic Boston sports fan just like Simmons, but she’s carved out her own niche and gone national, too. Fans of her former weekly Fox Sports 1 show, Garbage Time, should subscribe to her new ESPN podcast, which she describes as “about sports and all the things tangentially related to sports.”
Only A Game
NPR’s sports podcast is, as you would expect, insightful, anecdotal, and downright interesting. Host Bill Littlefield offers stories on offbeat sports and oddball moments. For example, the NFL hopeful that went to space with NASA, the former MLB commissioner’s dealings with the White House, and a homeless marathon runner.
Business of Sports
Hosts Michael Barr, Scott Soshnick, and Eben Novy-Williams put Bloomberg’s classic spin on this typically 10-20-minute podcast. They explore the money, real estate, and technology behind the games, and all things business to do with the multi-billion dollar industry that is sports.
Edge of Sports
Should the NCAA pay its players? Is the WNBA poised for a breakout? What does the future hold for trans athletes? All these burning questions are tackled by Dave Zirin of The Nation on Edge of Sports, a non-mainstream approach to the intersection of sports and politics, often featuring insightful guests with opinions on the issues.
View from the Cheap Seats
The Sklar brothers, comedians Jason and Randy, are back with a spinoff of their previous series, Cheap Seats. The Sklars are able to rein in high-profile guests both in and out of the sports world, including Jim Gaffigan, Ozzie Smith, Bob Costas, and more. If you like sports, comedy, and indie music, chances are you’ll pick up what the Sklar brothers are putting down on View from the Cheap Seats.
Outside Podcast, as the name would suggest, covers all things outdoor sports. If you’ve never tuned in to hosts Peter Frick-Wright and Robbie Carver, you might be seduced by episode titles like these: The Wrong Way to Fight Off a Bear; Defending Your Home from a Raging Wildfire; and Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? (We just have to have the answer to that last one!) The storytelling nature of the podcast makes the 30- or 40-minute episodes race by, making this a bingeable series for the ears.