Sports talk has been a hugely popular genre of radio shows for decades. Phrases like “I’ll take your answer off air” or “First time caller” originated in the zeitgeist thanks in large part to their prevalence on local sports call-in shows where fans of certain teams call radio hosts to complain about athletes and coaches. While sports radio continues to chug along, the general concept has been vastly improved by the podcasting medium, though.
With podcasts, there is less of an emphasis on the nonsensical gripes of the community and more of a focus on the camaraderie of the hosts, research and insight into the topics, and a higher production value. There are plenty of sports podcasts to celebrate and listen to, from the adjacent to the specific to the casual to the Jon Bois-esque bizarre and everything in between.
10 Jemele Hill Is Unbothered
First up, Jemele Hill Is Unbothered is not exclusively a sports podcast. Jemele Hill, a top-notch writer and media personality, hosts this Spotify podcast that does deal in sports. Steve Kerr, Megan Rapinoe, and Rajon Rondo have all stopped by.
But it also goes deeper. Hill’s sharp insight into how politics informs many industries also dictates the direction of her podcast. She engages in conversations that feel right at home in the intersection of sports, pop culture, and politics and she does it with aplomb. One is just as likely to hear Issa Rae as they are Stan Van Gundy.
9 Jalen & Jacoby
If chemistry is one of the top draws for a sports podcast, then Jalen & Jacoby has to be considered among the best. Hosted by Jalen Rose and David Jacoby, the show pops into podcast feeds multiple times a week.
The chemistry between the two was deepened during ESPN’s Grantland era and continues to thrive in a more podcast-friendly section of ESPN’s history. The two have fun, but they also have valuable insights into the current direction of the NBA.
8 Section 10
While the podcasts hosted by Jemele Hill, Jalen Rose, and David Jacoby all deal with sports from a more wide-reaching perspective, Section 10 zeroes in on one fandom in particular: the Boston Red Sox.
Because of this narrow focus, Jared Carrabis (himself an unbiased national baseball journalist), Steve Perrault, and Coley Mick are able to rise above a whole mess of Barstool podcasts. They chronicle the journeys of each Red Sox season with humor and obsession, making the show just as entertaining when the team is winning the World Series or cleaning up last place.
7 The Ringer Fantasy Football Show
There is no dearth of fantasy sports podcasts in this world, but somehow, The Ringer Fantasy Football Show has managed to emerge as one of the best, even in spite of its slightly delayed debut – compared to the competition.
Hosted by Danny Heifetz, Danny Kelly, and Craig Horlbeck, it’s easily one of the best sports pods on The Ringer, a network full of them. What sets them apart is their earnestness and honesty. They may not always give the best advice, but they try their best.
6 The Right Time With Bomani Jones
The Right Time with Bomani Jones is another podcast that updates multiple times per week. But while the sports discussions always provide welcomed insight to the ESPN audio complex, it’s really Bomani Jones himself who makes this a top pod of the genre.
Bomani Jones is easily one of the smartest figures in the sports media landscape right now. His vehicle is only enhanced, as well, when former NFL star Dominique Foxworth stops by on Fridays.
5 Le Batard & Friends – South Beach Sessions
Currently, Dan Le Batard, Stugotz, and the entire pirate ship have left the port of ESPN and headed out into Meadowlark Media, a new, independent podcast enterprise. While Le Batard’s maintenance of his classic radio show is superb, it’s the continuation of Le Batard & Friends that has excelled (and is also more traditionally a podcast).
It’s primarily an interview podcast, but many of the discussions held there are rooted in fun and fascinating sports topics (like Michael Schur and Tim Kurkjian swapping Manny Ramirez stories). It’s a perfect flagship pod for Le Batard’s mission, which is to never take sports too seriously.
4 The Bill Simmons Podcast
Similarly, The Bill Simmons Podcast has been known to feature many non-sports guests. Names like Greta Gerwig and the immensely talented Saoirse Ronan once stopped by. Wesley Morris makes appearances to talk movies with Bill. But with Bill Simmons at the helm, sports will always be the focal point.
During the fall, Simmons invites Cousin Sal on to guess each week’s NFL matchup lines. As the NBA heats up, Ryen Russillo and Jackie MacMullan break down the league. Joining up with a rotating crew of Ringer personalities (and some Joe House, too), Simmons has more than proven himself as a pillar of the podcasting community.
3 The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny
The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny is not only a special sports podcast because it has an adorable dog for a co-host. It’s also special because Mina Kimes is perhaps the most thrilling talent ESPN has given a platform to since Simmons or Le Batard themselves.
Each week, Kimes invites a different guest on to discuss a topic specific to football. The insights she brings to the table are always remarkably thought-provoking, as she has an eye for progressions on the gridiron that many other analysts miss.
2 The PosCast
It’s bold to call The PosCast a sports podcast because that would imply the show is about something that’s actually meaningful to some people. Yet, it has still managed to amass a major following because the show is so giddy to discuss meaningless topics like hot fruit and terrible Christmas music alongside more meaningful topics like Tony La Russa’s poor managerial style and Tommy Pham’s box scores.
Hosted by Joe Posnanski and frequently anchored by Michael Schur (as well as Ellen Adair, Nick Offerman, Brandon McCarthy, and more) The PosCast will talk all kinds of sports (NBA issues, the Cleveland Browns), but mainly focuses on baseball. Listeners will come for the sports and stay for the drafts, which have included the best Taylor Swift songs, sandwiches, and singers from “We Are the World.”
1 Sports? With Katie Nolan
Coming in at the number one position is the podcast that ends with a question mark and starts with a question. Perhaps Katie Nolan’s Sports? podcast does not always deal with sports analysis directly, but it is always in the sports ballpark. That typically makes for the best pods.
Katie Nolan is just as happy to discuss a social faux pas as she is a horse on PEDs or Tom Brady’s social media presence. The podcast can be exceptionally funny and profoundly meaningful in equal measure, thanks to Nolan’s emphasis on mental health and personal openness. This year, the show has found a brand new groove as Travis and Christina (the Union) have come into their own, largely due to the Third Month Crazy Time brackets back in March. Love the podcast, mean it.
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