I recently listened to an episode of Adam Grant’s podcast Rethinking, entitled “Life lessons from sports,” featuring Jody Avigran. Avigran is passionate, fast-talking ex-athlete and sports commentator who has a new podcast called Good Sport. This was one TED podcast boosting the signal of another.
Avrigan’s Good Sport podcast is about the deeper meaning of sports. In the Rethinking episode, he says stuff like this:
You’re telling me that the thing that is really fun to do, that like keeps me in shape, […] will also teach me like, how to be a better human and how to like trust others and how to build teams? And like is a place where I can also like, figure out all these things about the real world, which I’m gonna have to go back to anyway at some point?
I am on board with Avrigan’s idea that sports can teach us about how to be good humans, good team players, and a good supporters of others. It’s what FIFI is also about, in my view.
I also found myself interested in Avigran’s focus on not only the brilliance of top-tier athletes but also the communities that nurture athletes, the supporting role that high-impact coaches play, and those who are the keepers of team culture, which Avigran describes as the “glue guy”:
I’m very fascinated, and I like asking athletes of all stripes: who’s actually the person who, who brings you all together? Who’s actually the star in the locker room? You know, they call it “glue guy” […].
To illustrate, Avigran describes the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem, and Grant supplies former MBA player Shane Battier, as another example of a glue guy.
And I started thinking: Glue guy. Glue guy. Glue girl? When are these two seasoned podcasters— who are nerding out on the “life lessons” sports teach us—going to give examples of female athletes, female coaches, women’s teams, and gender (diversity) and sports? Why would a 40-minute episode on what sports teach us about ourselves and our world not reference a single person from over half that world? Did Grant or Avrigan even notice how this podcast advertising another podcast would appear so gender unaware?
I scanned the Good Sport episode titles and found one called The Past and Future of Gender in Sport. Okay, that sounds good. But, in 2023, are female athletes and women’s sports teams only mentionable in the solitary “gender in sports” episode, or can we also normalize gender inclusive examples in every episode?
I realize I am drawing conclusions about the enduring gender unawareness of sports media based on a single episode of one podcast and a quick scan of another. But if I want to learn more about glue girls in team sports (which I do), how many podcasts will I have to comb before I find that information?
@samanthabrennan has recommended to me The Gist, and I also found the Women in Sport podcast. FIFI readers, what other inclusive sports podcasts would you recommend?
Error and Update:
I apologize for including in my post an ableist expression to convey my negative view of sports podcasters who fail to include gender and gender diversity. The expression was disrespectful and has been removed. It’s an important reminder to me, as the author writing about the very topic of inclusion in the media, to be vigilant about ensuring that what we (including me) say and write in the public sphere does not exclude or diminish others.
Today I listened to Adam Grant’s Rethinking episode featuring soccer star, author, and podcaster Abby Wombach, which was brilliant and awesome and everyone should listen to it.