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A good game--whether it's a pro football playoff, or a family showdown on the kitchen table--can make you feel, at least for a little while, like your whole life hangs in the balance. This hour of Radiolab, Jad and Robert wonder why we get so invested in something so trivial. What is it about games that make them feel so pivotal?

We hear how a recurring dream about football turned into a real-life lesson for Stephen Dubner, we watch a chessboard turn into a playground where by-the-book moves give way to totally unpredictable possibilities, and we relive a moment where rooting for the underdog makes us rethink what a truly happy ending is.


Brian Christian, Stephen J. Dubner, Daniel Engber, Malcolm Gladwell and Alison Gopnik

Skin in the Game

Writer Eric Simons gets the ball rolling this episode with an embarrassing admission about a beautiful night, a hockey game, and an overwhelming, outsized feeling of rage that overtook his senses. 

What is it about being a fan that causes such intense reactions? How can the outcome of a game ...

Comments [11]

The Rules Can Set You Free

Play is something we all do--it seems so natural, it feels a little bit ridiculous to ask why we need it. But psychology professor Alison Gopnik explains some profound benefits, and tells us about a noticeable shift that happens somewhere between age 3 and 6--a shift that causes ...

Comments [16]

On the Winning Side

In movies and daydreams, winning changes everything. But in real life, it's not always so easy to pin down which ending is the happiest, or who deserves the glory. Dan Engber, senior editor for Slate Magazine, tells Producer Soren Wheeler about his self-defeating habit of always ...

Comments [13]

Comments [132]

Matthias from Wisconsin

Brilliant episode - listening to it made my day. Listening to radio when features are welll done is better than TV
Thanks guys,

Mar. 31 2018 08:24 PM
Sarah Berry from Portland OR

Hey you know what? Women play sports too. And, amazingly, it's not always about Daddy issues. Wouldn't know it from this episode (unless we're supposed to stick to freeze tag).

Mar. 31 2018 05:51 PM
Luca Smith Senise

Sports and games are about human freedom, human creativity, and human excellence. Both the Gladwell and the Underdog theories converge at the more essential value of human excellence.

We need the underdogs to play well for the winners to show why they are winners - that's why I root for them at least (plus the empathetic pleasure in the underdog narrative that was mentioned). In the same paradoxical way, we need constricting rules and boundaries to make visible just how talented those that transcend those rules and boundaries are.

Mar. 29 2018 07:04 PM

Oh man, I struggled not to laugh at the Gladwell bit. Absolutely brilliant segment.

Aug. 15 2016 12:02 PM
Nigel Coldwell from Birmingham, uk

It strikes me that of i'm not involved in the game, if I'm in team C, then it's almost always in my interest for the weaker of teams A & B to win.

Dec. 16 2015 04:03 PM
Antonia Neruda from Florida

Games make us who we are. Our fans of certain games determine our personality. I agree with this podcast. Games teach us rules and teach us teamwork. Games are important when you are a child. It's true. Game teach lessons, whether it's Scrabble or Uno. Games taught me how important it is to be obedient. Games are fun but they also teach you things as a kid.

Jan. 25 2015 04:23 PM
Søren Tryde Andersen from Denmark

Oh my god. I cried at the end. Such a good ending.

Nov. 22 2013 05:40 PM

How is Mr Gladwell's bias different to the Just World Fallacy?

It seems somewhat essentialist, acting as it does as if there were someone who 'deserved' to win any given competition, when the point of any competition us to see who wins and 'deserving' is meaningless except so far as it influences the minds of the competitors. (It isn't
completely essentialst in that he gives hard practice credit... but from where does the capability for hard practice come, and for that matter what _isn't_ essentialist about believing that you
must get higher grades because your parents went to university?) I think it's rooted in a pseudo-theistic fallacy in that it takes the physical universe to be morally normative....

And it becomes him badly, as if he were unaware of the hominid hierarchy pattern 'kiss up and kick down' that must be resisted by anyone attempting decency...or thought it entirely fitting and proper.

Oct. 14 2013 09:51 AM
Jonah Hall from San Francisco

I loved the episode. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about how and why I love watching sports. I grew up playing baseball, basketball and tennis in competitive environments, and with an older brother who had a deep obsession with baseball. Writing a blog which started out with an NBA focus which has now morphed into posts that share my love of things like Radiolab and other podcasts, I sincerely wish to create a sports-watching universe that is more empathetic and more self-aware. Less focused on competition, numbers, and constantly quantifying and ranking. Thank you for devoting a show to this topic. I've also written about this show and Malcolm Gladwell, here:

Oct. 12 2013 08:01 PM
H.B. from Cincinnati

In regard to your story on games, if the person from the New Yorker (Malcolm Gladwell ?) was upset about the person/team who is the favorite winning rather than the underdog, then what would be the reason for playing the game at all? Where does that fit into his logic? Should the game only be played for entertainment? And if only the favorite should win, then should a score even be kept?

Oct. 12 2013 03:41 PM

Can someone tell me what the song is at the very end of the episode? It's very haunting.

Aug. 17 2013 09:26 AM
Ian from Brooklyn

so according to this show, the first moves of the Carlsen - Nakamura game were 1. d4-d5 c4-e6

Guys, that is utterly impossible and nonsensical! Where's your chess fact-checker?

Oct. 03 2012 01:37 PM
Jesse from San Diego

The guy who talks about the Villanova Georgetown game reminds me of the 2009 Chargers... 3 missed field goals in ONE GAME? Kaeding missed 3 the entire season! So yea, I feel that big time.

Sep. 19 2012 04:14 PM

The song at 9:30 when Eric starts talking about Football is "Inchworm" by Battles, in case anyone was wondering!

Aug. 17 2012 11:39 AM
deserthackberry from Texas

What about those of us who not only don't like sports, but don't like games, except imagination games like Pictionary and Balderdash, even if we're not good at them? I get more of a kick out of seeing how my companions think than I do competing with them. Are we stuck in the toddler years?

Jul. 27 2012 09:32 PM
Dan from USA

The past 5 years I lost nearly all interest in watching sports. I do see 'the book' especially if you broaden the definition, sure that *particular* running back has never run a play up the middle against that *particular* defensive line...but really at the end of the day it's just a run up the middle. Someone wins, I could care less. When it comes to my own participation I enjoy lots of games and sports but I tend to enjoy sillier games that a 4 year old might like - why? Because all games are all so silly/pointless that playing one in a purposefully ridiculous way while pretending to care is even more fun and sort of mocks the whole process while being a part of it. It's FUN. =) Other adults start betting money on games to try to make them matter...I understand that approach but wouldn't advise it.

Jul. 18 2012 01:45 PM
Erin from San Francisco

Jack: yes, the Games link connects to the Basal Ganglion episode, both for streaming and download. But if you open up the episode's page, you can listen to each of the segments individually ("The Rules CAn Set You Free", "Skin in the Game", "On the Winning Side").

I am a game designer by trade, and was not going to let the broken link win. ;)

Jun. 29 2012 10:42 PM

Hi Guys,

Great podcasts. Just a quick issue, I'm having a problem listening to the Games podcast, keeps playout out the Basal Ganglia episode instead!!!



Jun. 28 2012 05:40 AM
Paul from Greensboro, NC

While people definitely love underdogs in stories, and sometimes in sports, people regularly side with overdogs in other areas. Americans have chosen big chain stores and restaurants over local establishments for decades. People who vote for third parties are generally seen as kind of nuts. I think there are many more areas of life where people want to side with the "winner", to associate themselves with the overdog's success, than actually support the underdog. While people might root for the underdog in a story, they'll drive right past the underdog, locally-owned and operated coffee shop, and go to Starbucks instead.

Jun. 26 2012 06:06 PM
Mitchell from Grand Rapids MI

The Detroit Red Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, and I had an overwhelming hatred for anything that had to do with Pittsburgh. A few days later my sister brought a group of friends home from college, and one guy was from Pittsburgh. The moment I found this out, hatred boiled in me and I was furious with him just because he was from Pittsburgh. He didn't even follow hockey, in fact, he hated it himself. But I still hated him for that small detail. Looking back, it was such an insignificant detail in life but at the time, hockey was all that mattered.

Keep up the good work guys, love the show!

Jun. 16 2012 11:18 PM
Callum from New York

@Zoe from Southern California: the melody is exactly like Hammock's "Losing You to You"

However, in the episode it's obviously quite a bit slower/spacier. I don't know if radiolab editors slowed it down or if there's a remix of this song somewhere. Hope this helps!

I know this is getting to be like a broken record but radiolab should really do music credits. Besides that I'm in love with everything they do!

Apr. 27 2012 05:04 PM
Zoe from Southern California

Great podcast! Can you please tell me the name of the song/artist that was played at the end of this particular podcast?

Apr. 22 2012 01:44 PM
Eugene from the University of Michigan

I was listening to the episode and *just waiting* for the moment in the show where someone brings up rivalry. The call back to earlier in the episode would be made, talking about how Michigan and Michigan State is a wonderful in-state mistaking the Maize and Blue for the Green and White is a capital offense. Jed would slip in how "those of you who went to either school would feel an immediate offense of the incorrect fight song being played. Just imagine how you would feel if you told someone the city where you were from and they thought it was in Canada."

And yes. I'm piling on.

On a side note, rivalries would be a great show topic.

Mar. 06 2012 10:38 PM
Eugene from New York

@ Amanda

Where exactly does the presumption that the underdog does not work hard come from? And when we're talking about professional sports, everyone involved is pretty highly skilled to begin with. Some of his examples also made it obvious that his outrage wasn't necessarily tied to skill or hard work- as being the 'overdog' in life generally has little to do with any of that. It was really more of at taking umbrage at the unexpected. And to be fair, Gladwell was also doing a pretty decent job of being funny.

I think that the hosts and a fair portion of the folks listening were laughing at the ridiculous notion that the universe is (or ought to be) a kind of machine that consistently doles out victory on the basis of conditions that create the probability of victory. That just isn't how probability works.

This by the way is another reason why most of us root for the underdog. We are simply excited by the improbable and unexpected. Not only was Gladwell offering us a modest proposal in favor of privilege and entitlement (note his outrage at receiving a lower grade than someone whose parents did not attend university), he was also expressing a preference for expected outcomes in a field of entertainment where the unexpected is the most exciting thing that can happen. I mean, would you care to listen to a segment in which the favored team with five on the court beat the underdog team with two on the court, or watch chess game after chess game that never once goes out of book?

Feb. 16 2012 04:58 PM
Amanda from the Midwest

All the laughing during Malcolm Gladwell's defense of the overdog really grated on my nerves - to the point where I had to stop the episode because I was so irritated. I didn't think what he was saying was very humorous, unless I missed a big joke in there somewhere. Or was no serious attention given to the value of his ideas, because the idea of the underdog is SO emotionally reinforced in our culture? There's nothing ridiculous about the idea that hard work + skill should generally equal success.

Feb. 16 2012 09:47 AM
Larry M

I remember that Anaheim loss. I was at the local bar and then I slunk outside and discovered both my bike tires were flat. It was a longer than usual walk home. Heartbreaking.

I love the essence of competition. I still thrive off of it.

Jan. 27 2012 01:08 PM
Brian from Tokyo from Tokyo

Apologies: I should have said 2 vs 5 game.

Jan. 04 2012 08:07 PM
Brian from Tokyo from Japan

Great show. Is there footage on YouTube of the 2 vs 3 Jackson High School game? I did a search but nothing found.

Jan. 04 2012 08:05 PM
ND12thMAN from South Bend, IN

The best "losers who win" scenario for me was the recent Super Bowl when the New York Giants who were the Wild Card in the NFC beating the undefeated Patriots, coming from behind as time was winding down.

Dec. 17 2011 09:50 PM
games dota 2

Thanks for revealing your ideas. I might also like to mention that video games have been ever evolving. Better technology and innovative developments have helped create realistic and active games. These entertainment games were not that sensible when the real concept was first being tried out. Just like other kinds of electronics, video games also have had to evolve by means of many ages. This itself is testimony to the fast growth of video games.

Dec. 01 2011 10:48 AM

I just listened to this show after watching my son get pummeled in a wrestling meet. While I was listening to the last segment I was thinking, "Oh I can't wait to play this for him!" By the end of the story, I realized I had it all wrong. I made my son put down the XBOX controller and listen to the story as soon as I got home. When it ended, I asked him if he knew why I wanted him to hear it with me (he gets the podcast as well on his own ipod). He said "I know, I should never give up. But the end was sad." I said, "Yeah, when the story was playing I was thinking I really needed to play this for you. Then the reality part of the story came and I thought that this was an illustration of how just because you are a star in high school doesn't guarantee anything for you in life. But when I got to the end, I realized that Chad is MY role model. I love RadioLab because for me (being scientifically-challenged) it is the perfect blend of science and real life. Just because there was no HARD science included in this story, does not detract at all from the impact; Psychiatry and Psychology being such soft sciences anyway. What exactly happened when Chad was shot is not important because it doesn't change the result. One of my favorite stories was in "Oops" about the poison lake and it too had little hard science and was mostly anecdotal. What matters is that my thought processes have changed because of this story. Thank you Radiolab!

Nov. 27 2011 01:39 AM

Does anyone know the name of the song starting at 19:54??

Nov. 26 2011 08:47 PM
Danielle from Chicago

Full text of Yukio Mishima's remarks:
(only the top 3 lines are in Japanese -- the rest is in English)

Nov. 20 2011 05:28 PM
Jeremy C Sanders from San Francisco, CA

Last year the Giants played the Texas Rangers in the World series, and on November 1st ended up winning for the first time since 1954. This was one day before the CA Gubernatorial election between Jerry Brown, and Meg Whitman. Whitman's campaign was pro big business, and she frequently compared California to Texas, suggesting that our strategy be more like theirs. I remember feeling like the World Series game was like an allegory for the political standoff between the big business ideals of Texas, and the progressive social ideals of California's San Francisco Bay Area. As if the results of the election were hinged on the results of the Fall Classic... Let's just say it was a great year for San Francisco Bay Area!

Nov. 17 2011 04:32 PM

Another great episode. Anyone who liked the high school basketball story should read Chuck Klosterman's "Three Man Weave" , the story of a Juco game in N.D. The winning team,United Tribes Technical College, played the last 66 seconds-you guessed it-down to 3 men.

Oct. 19 2011 02:25 PM

@gm0 I want to say it's Andrew Bird - Tenuousness... But I might be thinking of a different part of the episode.

Oct. 14 2011 07:52 PM

anyone know the name of the song when Eric Simons first starts talking about liking football?

Oct. 14 2011 02:17 AM

The Horrors of Standardized Testing

As a high school senior, I have always killed myself over standardized tests. Due to this devotion, I have received what most people would call "very good scores". But I never really feel satisfied with these scores. Listening to this episode, in particular the segment about chess and the beauty of a new creation, made me realize that part of the reason standardized tests are so terrible, is that they involve no innovative or orignal thinking. Therefore, once you have "achieved" a high score on one of these tests, you don't really feel like you have accomplished anything. I believe that this is a true shame. Many of America's brightest and hardest working teenagers are devoting hours of their time to these tests, which ultimately will give them to tools necessary to form the solutions and ideas of tomorrow. Thank you radiolab for showing this to me. I vow to give up standardized testing. I realize that my intelligence is truly proven by the moments in physics class when I can think of an alternate solution to the book's method or the times in english when I find can interpret a segment of text from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in a way different than my classmates. Regardless if the class is Calculus or art, originality and creativity are what truly matter when it comes to learning. Intelligence is not a number.

Oct. 06 2011 08:41 PM

This episode makes watching professional team sports sound actually appealing to me in a way that I never thought possible!

I also wanted to comment on Malcolm Gladwell's theory that he roots for the overdog because he was the smartest kid in a tiny school. I was also the "smartest" kid in a small school. (I don't claim I was actually the smartest, and I had some very smart classmates, but I was pegged early on as the smartest in my grade so it became my reputation, and I was the valedictorian.) But I don't remember feeling a sense of unfairness when someone did better than me on a test, and I've always rooted for the underdog. Don't misrepresent us smart kids, Gladwell, we have enough people who think we're stuck up as it is!

Oct. 04 2011 12:05 PM

As an avid RL listener and someone who enjoys sports, I really loved this episode. I'm sure it helps that I'm a Steelers fan, but more than that I just love games. The guests, Dubner and Gladwell, were great and I loved Malcolm's piece on the pain of the "over-dog" losing. Great show guys, a real winner!

Oct. 03 2011 04:00 PM
Nick from Portland, OR

The gun goes off. There's blood on the steering wheel. And then????

I am amazed that only one other commenter feels slighted by this omission. Why did you bring that encounter up at all if you weren't going to complete the thought. It didn't even have anything to do with the game.

As a fan of your show, I have to admit that this was not an episode that I would forward to a friend as an example of your best work. I stuck with it, even though I believe that the primary value of games and sport is in participation. Most spectators just fall into a huge time suck. But I thought your final story was going to leave fan-dom aside and make some valuable observation on the benefits of participation. Then the gun goes off and... nothing.

You just used up a valuable mulligan.

Oct. 03 2011 01:45 PM

Andrew Bird (at @23:15)

Oct. 02 2011 08:38 AM
clay burnett from ohio

anyone know the title/artist of the song that plays around 23:15?

Sep. 29 2011 04:45 PM
Shannon from Indy

I'm a huge NPR fan and I love sports and watching sports. Not sure why you suggest NPR listeners are not likely huge sports fans.

Sep. 23 2011 11:49 AM
Sam from California

Re: little girl describing rules to the game : I remember moving to America from USSR and finding that in America the focus on rules was ridiculous and maddening. I find that it's a very American thing to live by someone else's invention of convention. I still find it very refreshing when I travel to find a reprieve from American culture of rules.

Sep. 22 2011 04:48 PM
Kerr Lockhart from Teaneck, NJ (Center of Known Universe)

I am a longtime fan of the show but "Games" was one of the all-time worst episode. Just watered-down THIS AMERICAN LIFE without any science. If you took Sloan money for this episode, it was fraud. Such a great subject and so much potential science, and all we got was some indifferent anecdotes. Lately FREAKONOMICS is eating your lunch, at least in terms of real social science and behavior. Bring back the glory days and bring back some science.

Sep. 20 2011 11:02 PM
Bob Rowlands from Hollister, CA.

Congratulation on the award! Taking money out of the equation will free you to invent!

My son who's a big fan of your recording techniques told me about Radio Labs. I downloaded all the iTunes Radio Labs pod cast and my wife and I traveled across the country enthralled in the stories. Your pod casts are so informative and presented in such a unique way that we were constantly entertained.

Sep. 20 2011 10:11 AM
Tony from Austin, TX

Congrats on grant!

Sep. 20 2011 09:06 AM
Thomas from WSKG

Congratulations Jad on the MacArthur award. I hope it does let you explore your genius in directions you have not been able to before. You have not seemed boxed in so far, so I'm curious where the frontier lies.

Sep. 20 2011 07:40 AM
Andrew Mitchell from Australia

Love your show. Keep up the great work.

When you were talking about checkers and chess you missed a great opportunity to explore Go. It's an amazing game with many more possible outcomes than Chess. If Chess is a single battle, Go is the whole war.

Sep. 20 2011 04:02 AM
Imani Lateef from Toledo, Ohio

Great show (sans faux paus). I was really anxious to here Malcolm Gladwell's piece and was totally surprised by his 'bias'. Not because he was wrong in any way (I think he was just being honest where most of us root for the underdog in order to be politically correct) but because he has written a very good article on how the underdog wins the majority of the time by (you guessed it) playing "outside of the book" so to speak. I thought the conversation was leading to this but it never did.

you can find the article on his blog titled "underdogs"


Sep. 18 2011 06:32 PM
Michael Miller from Bowling Green, Kentucky

Usually I'm impressed by the sound job on your show, but your decision to use the Chariots of Fire clip would be akin to choosing Strauss for the Space episode. It trivialized the real drama and I lost interest immediately. I understand you're talking science to lay people such as myself, but don't dumb it down that much. You had the perfect audience for this show - public radio listeners who want to hear about sports in a way that is new and interesting. The ending of this episode left much to be desired.

Sep. 17 2011 07:28 PM

I just listened to "Games" and really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed it since I got to hear my Alma Mater's fight song! I see that other people have notified you that you played University of Michigan's fight song while referring to Michigan State. I'm obviously partial to U of M, but I also enjoy State's fight song and cheer for them when they're not playing U of M! I think that you guys should put out a correction. Thanks!

Sep. 15 2011 05:16 PM
Kelly from Fresno, CA

Just catching up on unlistened podcasts since the semester started. Not being a sports not,I rolled my eyes at many of the excessive emotional connections described on the episode. Then I remembered a very specific event. My dad was a baseball nut. I was a young girl, around 7 or 8, when Hank Aaron hit his record-setting home run. My dad, very formally and deliberately, told me that this was an historical moment and to not forget it. I stared at the TV screen and saw the pither, Jim Wynn, (I remember his name AND the fact that he was a Dodger 40 years later!). He had his head down and was kicking in the dirt. I felt so very sorry for him, I actually felt a bit of panic. I asked my dad if he was going to get into trouble. I wanted to know if he was a daddy, too. Was he going to get kicked off the team? What was going to happen to him? I worried for a very long time about Jim Wynn. I remembered Hank Aaron's record-sitting home run, but it taught me that there are other stories happening at the same time. .

Sep. 14 2011 01:33 PM
Guise Faux

As a huge fan of Radiolab for all it does so well - the sound design; the intelligent, considerate yet lively interviews and conversations - I'm inclined to agree with others here that this episode was more like This American Life than the best of Radiolab. It's still a B- or C+ episode - I can't dislike any episode because they're all delightful to the ear. But beyond the anecdotes, there wasn't much there there.

I'm inclined to advise keeping the marvelous Stephen Dubner segment and "The Rules Can Set You Free" segment, and revisit this with more insights from scientists and researchers into why we value competition so highly, both as individuals and as societies.

Also, should I feel bad that I lol'd when Robert caught Jad in that uncharacteristically elitist statement about the public radio demographic? Jad could easily have deleted that comment and we'd be none the wiser. Bravo for leaving it intact.

Sep. 13 2011 02:15 AM
Rodrigo Teixeira from Brazil

I have only one thing to say:
Superbowl 42
Giants VS Patriots
The ultimate underdog moment

Sep. 12 2011 08:03 PM

I'm curious...where does one go to watch grandmasters' games online?

Sep. 11 2011 02:09 AM

The music you guys play is as good as your topics are interesting. Is anyone familiar with the music playing from 19:53 till 20:04, people keeping calling it an organ (I'm can't say). I'm sure we'd all love a list of the music played in the episodes to be posted somewhere. Thanks for all that you help me to consider

Sep. 10 2011 06:37 PM

There is SO MUCH to learn about this subject!

But one must be willing to turn one's back on psychology and trust that somebody besides PhDs might know something about life.

Oh well!

Sep. 10 2011 06:26 PM
David from Chicago

Except for Gopnik, I didn't hear much science in this episode. I hesitated to complain since I love all your other episodes and have never post a thank you. So, "thank you" for ALL your amazing work.

I remain disappointed because I'm very into games and game theory. But to have an entire episode of mostly anecdotes and leaving me with now new understanding of the science behind games.

Perhaps you will revisit the subject one day.

Sep. 09 2011 03:34 PM
kozmo from 7th Ward

fungible says "We do not suffer from *constant* violent crime" i dont know what part of New Orleans yer talking about but keep me in mind the next time you have a fancy hat and sazerac party in your posh home in the garden district. i agree with alanna, the streets of NOLA were unbelievably united more so then i had seen since katrina. even the people cheering for the Colts were really excited and happy for our city. the power of a game.

Sep. 08 2011 06:26 PM
Alanna Maureen

fungible- I live in the 8th ward of New Orleans, and I was speaking of my personal experience with the city. I meant no disrespect to the city I love, but i remember a particularly violence free time surrounding the championship, that was one of many things that made it so magic

Sep. 08 2011 05:39 PM
Geekoid from Portland

Nice episode.

How you can have an episode entitled 'Games' and not talk about the change in modern board games. The rise of games where the winning rules change. Games where the underdog is unknown until a latter reveal, tons of new board games with specific rule unknown at the beginning of the game..

Sep. 07 2011 07:48 PM

@Megan - It's funny, but doesn't that just show how messy and interesting human emotions are?

I actually think it was kind of cool how much of that sentiment I saw online (including from Americans) feeling happy for Japan because, as a nation, they could use something to lift their spirits. After all, it is the World Cup, so you could argue it is more about national pride/spirit at that point rather than the individual players (who have their regular clubs).

I think your roommate's comment that they "should" have it goes too far, but to be happy for them because it may mean more to them (at the time) as a nation I think is perfectly understandable. It shows a fascinating side of humanity and how sport can demonstrate how we balance competitiveness with sympathy/empathy and more altruistic feelings. That can't be entirely bad, right? Hell, it may even be rational, from an evolutionary perspective.

Sep. 06 2011 08:11 PM
Molly from Buffalo, NY

Spoken like a true Wolverine. Frankly, I had to YouTube the UM fight song because its so awful I've never even listened to it all that closely.
I for one was horrified also, but mostly because a radio program I love and has a staff to do research would STILL screw up Michigan and Michigan State! Come on Radiolab! Stop being such public radio weenies and Google Michigan STATE.

Sep. 06 2011 03:09 PM

I loved this show. Right there with them on irrational moments. When the USA lost to Japan in the World Cup Finals, my roommate said, "They should have it because of the tsunami. It'll mean more to them." And I was just steaming, like "Those things are not related..."

Sep. 06 2011 03:06 PM
Ann from Pennsylvania

3 Things:
1. I almost always root for the underdog, but didn't realize I was in such a majority!
2. I agree with Gladwell's point about the universe feeling out of whack when the true underdog does win. Though I was rooting for the underdog and was elated when they won, my heart broke when I saw Wayne Simien on the court after Kansas lost to Bucknell (NCAA 2005). He'd trained his whole life for that moment but it was lost (not taking anything away from the BU players!) - mostly on a fluke.
3. Regarding comments that this episode fell short of RadioLab standards because wasn't scientific enough - the intention of the whole show is to be "Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience." For what its worth, I think this show hits the mark in that regard.

Sep. 05 2011 04:18 PM
Avinash Khanna

As a testament to the attachment one can have for games, I was a longing Knick fan for approximately 2 years, as the Knicks were dismal until that year they went to the finals on the Larry Johnson shot. As I heard the snippet on the podcast I simply felt light hearted and a tingling went through my ears.

It was strange!

Sep. 05 2011 04:14 PM

How culturally situated is the underdog principal? I know that there are some very generalized remarks about this being a universal principal, but it sounds like the studies were very American oriented, and we are the country of the self-made man which is essentially a story of the underdog triumphing. The examples were all anecdotal for anything but American culture.
Also, the point that the Iliad and the Odyssey are underdog stories are complete misreadings of those texts! Actually read them rather than taking how they are currently understood!

Sep. 05 2011 12:03 PM
Jerry from Santa Fe, NM

Hi, I've listened to all of your podcasts and really enjoy your work. I am disappointed with the Games podcast, however, because all of the descriptions of things were only like something instead of being about real things.

Sep. 04 2011 09:19 AM

I don't like underdogs winning. However, I disagree with Gladwell's analysis. I think team allegiance ruins the purity of sport. Team allegiance is the base side of the game, the win by any means, the being o.k. with winning by luck, the desire for an outcome over the process. Sports is about the process of deciding a victor not who actually wins. In an ideal world all sides would play as well as possible and the best side would always win. That way the sporting action itself would be of the highest quality. I don't understand Gladwell's annoyance at the effects of rain on an outdoor sport. That variable should be taken into account in determining who is truly greatest. However, if the underdog is defined as the side with lower quality athletes, then it is a travesty if they win, because it means the game was not optimally played and thus is less beautiful to watch. The idea of sports as beauty may be harder for american's to grasp who are so points obsessed, but football fans know that a 0-0 can easily be a better game than say 3-1 if one team scores 3 goals first. The point is the play and the athleticism and the winning side should be the better side if the game is played as well as possible, a true underdog should lose for ascetics sake. Evenly matched teams are a different story, and way more fun to watch.

Sep. 02 2011 11:07 PM

Brilliant episode. Last story was perfectly told and wonderfully moving. And for those that whine about more science, did you ever really think Radiolab was JUST a science show? I mean, really. One of their first episodes featured a twenty minute piece about a goat standing on a cow's back. Think about it.

Sep. 02 2011 10:35 PM
Melissa C from San Diego, CA

For someone so highly regarded, I think Malcolm Gladwell is WAY off base here. And I fumed the rest of the day just thinking about it.

Gladwell neglects to consider all of the important factors that make the underdog worthy of our cheer—not just sheer luck, but the greatness of humility and unrecognized skill. What about the infinite underlying factors that aren’t captured in statistics that experts claim to define the game? Not all underdogs are merely “lucky,” sometimes, they are finally getting the break they deserve. When underdogs win, it is the ultimate moment of triumph after hours of practice with inferior gear, equipment, training. Not to mention overcoming the obstacles of self-doubt.

And how can Gladwell so arbitrarily draw a line between a “game” and a “story”?! A game is ABSOLUTELY a part of a story, and a personal one at that for all of the individual competitors. If anything the game is the climax of the story…the values of humility and hard work finally being rewarded. YARG!

Sep. 02 2011 09:50 PM
Zeamoore4 from Norway

Superb as always.

Sep. 02 2011 05:24 PM

I LOVE Radiolab and always will but this episode fell a bit short for me. I missed the science oh so much! I agree with Seth from D.C. that it was more like a This American Life episode.

Looking forward to the next episode!

Sep. 02 2011 03:49 PM
Athena from Charlotte

1) I get Gladwell's point. So often it isn't the hardest working or most able who get ahead in life; it's the luckiest. It's good to see greatness get its just reward.

2) As a person with more interest in than understanding of the sciences, I appreciate the fact that RadioLab draws in dilettantes like myself by balancing science with story.

3) This sports-hater has a little better understanding of fans now. What a great episode!

Sep. 02 2011 03:25 PM

I love Radiolab, but ever since they spent I don't know how much time discussing how a whale swam around "thanking" people for saving it after it had been beached, and the episode about Time (Season 1, I think) where they discussed one guy who lives without modern conveniences, I realized that this show has never been about science. Or it's "science lite" for people who usually don't think about anything from a scientific point of view, so feel great about "dabbling" from time to time. Radiolab has always been equally likely to lend credence to an astrologer as an astronomer. For instance: to contrast the freeform style of play of preschoolers with the more rule-driven style of play of 1st graders without mentioning the impact of going to school and being taught to follow the rules day in and day out is definitely a faulty analysis of...something. But, hey - it's their show.

I actually agreed with Malcolm Gladwell's defense of the "overdog", though. Hard work and preparation should pay off. The "underdog" winning the game so often depends on a lucky break, which should not be counted on for success. Of course everyone roots for the underdog: we identify with the people who have no reason to be successful, or win the game, yet do so due to a freak occurance: we're all hoping this will happen to us.

Sep. 02 2011 02:35 PM

I am confused by complaints of loss of Rigor. Mainly because the show has never been rigorous in the first place. The show has always been about an hour long and has multiple topics a show, each of which could easily fill a university seminar class period on there own, if not an entire course, I am just not seeing rigor. I am not complaining I love the show. I just am monumentally confused by this line of criticism. I mean no one complains to david Attenborough that he only uses the most poetic shots of nature and that actually say Great White Sharks spend most of there time underwater, so why show the one second of them jumping clear out of the water to eat a seal. A rigorous science documentary would be an endless list of definitions, statistical tests, debates about operating definitions...and on and on. The show is only an hour people, it's amazingly entertaining, thought provoking, intelligent, and beautifully produced what the heck else do you want from it?

Sep. 01 2011 04:37 PM
Jake from Minnesota

Those that say "Go somewhere else for more science" must be blinded by their love of the show to see the decline in scientific rigor/inquiry... It used to use its funny, well organized narratives to introduce scientific ideas, theory, and questions. Now it uses it to cover the lack thereof. I am not saying they don't deserve props for producing a nice show. It just doesn't challenge me (and possibly others) on that level and the reason why that stinks is its rare to find such a cool way to do that.

Sep. 01 2011 03:08 PM
Doug Fisher from Nashville, TN

I enjoyed the show. I was fascinated by Malcolm Gladwell's reasons for rooting for the overdog, suggesting that in a significant way overdogs are the more vulnerable/fragile in a larger life context. I tend to root for underdogs in games, but even so, I see some of the same root-for-overdog impulses in myself. I wonder if similar feelings of empathy/sympathy are responsible for favorable treatment of the already successful (overdogs), such as forgiveness of white-color crime and the like, and I wonder whether there isn't a real societal downside in this impulse to treat the already successful with kid gloves; the connection may be a stretch, but I think the phenomena are related.

On a related note, I would like to know whether rooting for the underdog my be an evolutionary adaptation to equalize community members and to achieve a better collective intelligence.

Sep. 01 2011 06:04 AM
Hank from Mississippi

I loved this episode because it gave me greater insight into my own behavior and feelings as a sports fan.

I love HDTV for sports, particularly because it lets you see the _fans_ so much more clearly, and that is where the joy of sport is often best captured.

You didn't touch on it in the episode, but I think *hope* is the most powerful emotion tied to sport -- it's when all hope is lost yet your team somehow wins that you see the most uninhibited jubilation; it describes the emotion of the underdog before the game starts; the irrelevance of it in an overwhelming favorite's role lets all the anticipation air out of the balloon.

Long live sport!

Aug. 31 2011 03:30 PM
Will from San Francisco

While it may not had as much pure science as some listeners have stated, I think it was probably one of the best episodes produced... definitely the best thing on I've heard on radio in a while.

Aug. 31 2011 03:01 PM
efrain solis from Baltimore, MD

Well done gentlemen, I always look forward to new material from Radiolab.

Aug. 30 2011 10:17 PM

Boring. I usually love the podcasts, but I sat through half of this and had to shut it off.

Aug. 30 2011 11:26 AM
Jason Adkins

I enjoyed the conversation with Gladwell. The intro to that segment cracked me up. "We ran into . . ." Malcolm Gladwell?!?!? Really?

Ho hum, excuse me, are you Malcolm Gladwell, one of the most successful living authors? Mind if we ask you about your feelings regarding underdogs?

Aug. 30 2011 10:00 AM
Fan of Woo from the Best Universe Ever

Wow. The peanut gallery is unhappy with woo-woo science? So sorry. Hey, there are those of us who love Radiolab--and its science-content--because of the story. Without the story not all of us would understand all the non-woowoo science like the smart peanuts do. And eh, who said Radiolab was supposed to be pure science? There's always NOVA. That said, I loved this episode. Chess segment was th-rilling; underdog piece was fun (although it skirted the obvious, that more than any other explanation neutral people will root for the underdog _____ because it's the better story--it's the only story w/ conflict, for goodness' sake), and the final b-ball story was amazingly engrossing (my heart rate was up, similar to when watching a game) and surprisingly emotive. I came away wanting to talk with everyone about the story of sports and why we love to watch/play..."so thanks."

Aug. 30 2011 02:46 AM

@Sparty- I believe Michigan beat Michigan State both times they met last season. So yeah, Michigan has a basketball program :)

Great show!

Aug. 29 2011 03:25 PM

@Wapuche: I think the more relevant point is, who knew that the University of Michigan still had a basketball program?

Aug. 29 2011 12:35 PM
Dread Pirate Clinton from Montreal

There's clearly an echo in here.

We <3 you RadioLab, but...
Moar Science!!

Aug. 28 2011 11:36 PM
Matt Duffy from Sherman Oaks, CA

I love "Radiolab", have been listening since 2006, and think your show is worth a hundred "This American Life"s. The best thing in Radio- and Podcast-land... ahem, with emphatic shout-outs to "Giant Bombcast", BBC's "Click" and NPR's "All Songs Considered". :)

Anyway, the Stephen Dubner story really got to me (it had me crying my head off, in fact). But I think you guys all (including Stephen) missed the point.

The dream is OBVIOUSLY a visitation from Stephen's late father, appearing (to Stephen) in the form of Stephen's greatest hero, and then spending the perfect evening with Stephen over and over again. This becomes abundantly clear at the end, with the hand-off and "You'll have to take it from here..." I mean, the metaphor couldn't be any more spelled-out.

I hope Stephen appreciates how much his father (wherever he is) loves him -- the proof is this amazingly loving, comforting dream, exactly what Stephen needed at the time.

Aug. 28 2011 10:53 PM
Matt Duffy from Sherman Oaks, CA

I love "Radiolab", have been listening since 2006, and think your show is worth a hundred "This American Life"s. The best thing in Radio- and Podcast-land... ahem, with emphatic shout-outs to "Giant Bombcast", BBC's "Click" and NPR's "All Songs Considered". :)

Anyway, the Stephen Dubner story really got to me (it had me crying my head off, in fact). But I think you guys all (including Stephen) missed the point.

The dream is OBVIOUSLY a visitation from Stephen's late father, appearing (to Stephen) in the form of Stephen's greatest hero, and then spending the perfect evening with Stephen over and over again. This becomes abundantly clear at the end, with the hand-off and "You'll have to take it from here..." I mean, the metaphor couldn't be any more spelled-out.

I hope Stephen appreciates how much his father (wherever he is) loves him -- the proof is this amazingly loving, comforting dream, exactly what Stephen needed at the time.

Aug. 28 2011 10:52 PM

I love RadioLab, and have done for a number of years, but unfortunately I have to agree with listeners who've posted below to comment on the fact that the show has of late become too anecdote-heavy and science-light. The chess story was good (although I think it's more or less common knowledge that a game of chess has more potential situations than there are atoms in the universe), but apart from that all we heard was a succession of very local stories about the importance of sport, and very little about the psychology or need/desire for sport. There seemed to be no attempt to use the particular in order to reveal something more universal, as RL has done to brilliant effect so many times in the past.

Boxing might have been an interesting example here - a brutal and, in my opinion, barbaric sport - but nevertheless there's something very basic and primeval about it, with two people slugging it out with their fists until one participant is simply knocked unconscious. The fact that it's a "sport" that can sometimes prove fatal reveals something important about the nature of sport - it a harmless "fight to the death" that can often lead to emotional and physical harm being caused to the participants and supporters. Or at least feel like it. For example, what about football hooliganism?

Some animals, such as ravens and chimps, are known to play, and I'm sure there are many others. Of course, play isn't always the same as sport, but there's a relation there. John Gray's book Straw Dogs discusses it briefly. Maybe sport is often a metaphor for the endless struggle and competition of life.

But as for human play or sports (and here I admit I'm an Englishman obsessed with football, or "soccer", as some would have it), the idea of engaging in a harmless (and sometimes dangerous) battle of strength, skill, wits, speed, or whatever, is an important and interesting cultural achievement that needed more scientific and philosophical depth.

Sorry for this - I still love the show and get excited when a new episode comes out.

Aug. 28 2011 08:34 PM
Wapuche from Ann Arbor, MI

While I was horribly offended with your associating the greatest fight song of all time with some school from East Lansing, I can cut you some slack for one reason: no one knows the Michigan State fight song. I'm fairly certain that not even the MSU marching band knows the song (which, in and of itself, means that every performance is an impressive feat of mass improvisation, like a jazz-fight song fusion). That said, this was the equivalent of having a show on the Mets and devoting a segment to Mariano Rivera. A headscratcher, to say the least.

Aug. 28 2011 07:59 PM
Mojo from Oxford UK

Another amazing ep, just want to say that I only discovered RL about a month ago and slowly downloading the backlog and loving each and every ep! Keep up the ossum work :D

Aug. 28 2011 04:11 PM
Trevor from California

Seriously, who did the organ music?

Aug. 28 2011 02:34 PM
Eli from chicago

I have to know, and maybe its a dumb question, but I don't want to assume the answer. I want to know for sure, did the guy with the gun at the end, Travis I think, did he shoot himself, or chad?

Aug. 28 2011 12:36 AM
Nancy Proctor from Silver Spring, MD

I loved the story about the online chess database, Fritzie, and went online to see it but can only find a paid, downloadable chess game program. Is that it? I had imagined a chess wikipedia. Please provide the link if you can.

Thanks! RadioLab is the best audio ever, and I look forward to every episode.

Aug. 27 2011 10:14 PM
Ran from Israel

@Amina from Palestine,

I was about to download the new episode and glanced through the comments when I saw yours.
please tell me what happens there in Palestine and what is your mentality towards Israel and towards the Hamas.
How do you pass your lives over there? how is the education? what kinds of jobs are there? what is the solution, do you think, to the conflict?
please. I really want to know. I never ever met a Palestinian in my life...

Aug. 27 2011 06:30 PM
Charlie from Vermont

Villanova beat Georgetown in 1985, not 1982 as Gladwell posits.

I was quite impressed, however, that he nailed their field goal percentage in that game: 78.6% (he said 78, so spot on, really).

Gladwell all but says something I have always found unique and wildly misunderstood: We kind of love it when the underdog loses. The best sports books and movies end with heartbreak, a loss.

I will forever have an image of Mark Madsen crying on the bench after losing to UNC in the 2000 NCAA tournament. UNC was the underdog (for once), and something about it just felt awful. Don't get me wrong, I love rooting for underdogs as much as the next person, but there are times where it just doesn't feel right when they come out on top.

Aug. 27 2011 04:53 PM
Nathan from Northern Ireland

This is a great episode, very interesting.

I'm a fan of Ice Hockey, but I don't really have a team I support, I tend to support the losing team. I think its because I always feel bad for the losing team's goaltender, so if my team wins I always feel a tinge of guilt.

Aug. 27 2011 11:53 AM
Amina from Palestine

Great show, but one thing deeply disturbed me: when you mention the death of over 1,000 people in Gaza, you portray it as a sports match, and underdog/overdog competition. Those people weren't athletes, they were largely civilians (or civilians trying to defend themselves against an invading, occupying power). So at the very least it's insensitive to portray a massacre as an underdog/overdog sports match - kind of freaked me out. You're usually a very humanistic show, and it disturbed me to see human lives reduce to numbers. And people reading this - please just leave politics aside because that way madness lies - what disturbs me is the reduction of human beings killed to a sports match metaphor.

Aug. 27 2011 03:53 AM
Anil Kumar from New Delhi

This is an episode of boring!

Free Onbline games

Aug. 27 2011 03:01 AM
Cameron from Australia

@Chad from Tempe

The music you are listening to in the story about the basketball was from "Chariots Of Fire" an Iconic film about Olympic athletes the music was from Vangelis. You should be able to get the soundtrack on-line. He released a number of CD's in the 90's I think around the same sort of time Tubular Bells (Michael Oldsfeild was popular).


Aug. 27 2011 12:01 AM
Sree from India

So I was wondering about the chess book - how could any move not in the book be considered the one and only instance of that move? True, chess grandmasters whose games have been recorded have never played that move. But it doesn't mean that some amateur or casual player somewhere sometime (or many amateur or casual players in many places and many times) haven't used that same move. So forgive me for saying this but it seems a bit overly dramatic and misleading to say that this was the first instance of this move in this universe.

Aug. 26 2011 11:53 PM

While this was an entertaining episode, I wish there'd be a little more rigor applied - like, why do social animals play games? Some deeper analysis might have garnered more interesting analysis.

And Malcolm Gladwell completely missed (or his parents did) the lesson of humility when he assumed that he should "always" beat the kids without books at home or parents with college educations. Oh well, I'll just make sure I never have to deal with this jerk.

Aug. 26 2011 09:27 PM

I couldn't wrap my head around the chess games vs atoms in the universe numbers, so I went to the web. The numbers are even more astonishing!
Atoms estimated in the known universe = 4x10E79.
Number of games possible in a 'typical' chess game (40 moves, thirty choices/move) is about 10E120, the number given in the episode.
Number of total chess games is estimated at 10E100,000! a number so large no one will expend the effort to calculate it.
I too would like to see morre science but I have never lacked for stimulation. Keep up the good work - I will now contribute.

Aug. 26 2011 02:50 PM

If you want pure science, there are plenty of equally free BBC podcasts that do that in a nice pure way. Radiolab is much more than that to me anyway. This show is about the reason we have science in the first place, which is that human beings are curious about the world and themselves. This show was a bit closer to social science, than say the cold rationalism of pure mathematics, but social sciences are still sciences. As for the chess player below, non professional tournament games don't matter, because you would want it to be a useful book so who cares how an average schlub has played. It would be like an NFL football team watching tape of peewee teams. Yes more peewee footage exists, because parents all have cameras these days, but it doesn't make it worth a damn to a professional. Also given the number of potential chess positions cited it still wouldn't fill them all up, but it would fill up a few more of the dumb ones.
Also I feel the Michigan and Michigan State fan's concern. Given their conference is worse than the PAC ten and ACC in basketball (in terms of national championships) and worse than the SEC and ACC in terms of BCS football championships. The glory days of being awarded championships without playing for them long over, all they really have are the fight songs, so why kick them while they are down.

Aug. 26 2011 10:08 AM

Please, radiolab, stop with the religious or woo-woo science garbage. You're used to be so much more interesting.

Aug. 26 2011 04:38 AM

As a chess player I found the chess segment a bit confusing/misleading. I don't think every chess game ever played is in their database, the description of "the book" is wrong. Recorded tournament games are a minuscule fraction of games played.

Aug. 26 2011 02:02 AM
Eric from Portland

Another well done entertaining episiode, however, I feel like lately shows have been less scientific and more anecdotal. Let's get back to hard science!

Aug. 26 2011 12:12 AM
Aaron from Seattle, WA

wow, the audio work on this one is top notch keep it up!

Aug. 25 2011 05:54 PM
Ammon Lewis from UT

That 2 v 5 basketball bit would make a sick movie! Just saying..

Aug. 25 2011 05:28 PM
Seth Bowden from Washington, D.C.

First, I am a huge fan of Radiolab in general. However . . .

1.) You guys are not Click and Clack. Stop giggling and guffawing at every opportunity. It gets old.

2.) Please please please more science. This episode on games was entertaining, but should have been punted to This American Life.

Or, if you're going to do an ep on games, please please please give me some more analytical rigor. This is not happy fun story time (IMO), but rather a show devoted to exploring the mysteries of science.

In my opinion, your best show explored Benford's Law. More like that, please.

Aug. 25 2011 04:43 PM
Eric M from Toronto

This is my absolute favorite podcast. I wish the shows came out more often.
The way you tell stories is truly captivating. From the little things to finishing each other's sentences... it all seems so natural.

This podcast is great "food for thought" and always blows my mind.

I loved this episode! It is really something that I can relate to.
Personally, I cheer for the underdog. I think as humans we like to see someone pitted against the odds and come out victorious. It reminds us that not everything in this world is predictable and set in stone. It shakes us up and allows reality to set in, what a rush.

Aug. 25 2011 03:03 PM

AlannaMaureen-That time in New Orleans history was amazing and momentous. The city reveled in celebration and camaraderie as we have several times after Katrina and continue to do. We do not suffer from *constant* violent crime (though to say there is no crime would be amiss) and I'm sorry you have a poor impression of our city. I suggest you come for a visit and learn what a vibrant, warm, and safe place New Orleans truly is; it pains me to think anyone would think otherwise.

Additionally, I believe Yukio Mishima meant it is not his role as a writer to build walls and barriers but rather explore the scenarios and conflict that unfold when people encounter conflict (i.e. to throw an egg at a wall).

Aug. 25 2011 02:37 PM
Mara from Busan, South Korea

Isn't this the episode where the tic tac toe segment should be in?

Aug. 25 2011 09:04 AM
danku from seattle

cuz there was no video of it!

Aug. 25 2011 04:52 AM

Jad and the team
You guys did a fantastic job on this made me cry a bit.
oh man...what an amazing episode

Aug. 25 2011 01:44 AM

Although most of your listeners probably do not care about this, there are at least a few that care so much that it will make up for those that don't. As sports fans, you probably realize the importance of rivalries and the mental angst that a fan of one team can feel for another. In the 'games' episode you did something that would get the blood boiling of many faithful fans. Instead of playing the fight song of the Michigan State Spartans from East Lansing, MI, you played (in a very cool, but still incorrect, radiolab way) the fight song of the University Michigan Wolverines from Ann Arbor, MI. If you had mistakenly played any other fight song, we Spartans would probably have laughed off this mistake. Unfortunately, you played the fight song of the one school that we despise and root against more than any other. Sorry to be overly dramatic, but some mistakes hurt people's feelings. Here is a link to an mp3 of the correct fight song.
Thanks guys, still a big fan!

Aug. 25 2011 01:36 AM
kat from California

Terrific episode. Made me more than a little teary, too. And I'm a public radio listener and a die-hard San Jose Sharks ice hockey fan.

Aug. 25 2011 12:33 AM

Podcasts are not downloading. Not working from Zune subscription or direct download from this page.

Aug. 24 2011 11:39 PM
Chad from Tempe

Is there a way to list the music used in the episodes? The last song in the podcast is amazing, would buy the album in a second, could help the artists to get more exposure.


Aug. 24 2011 11:11 PM
Jose from Dallas

1st comment: I can really relate to this story. I love my San Antonio Spurs but when SPURS and Lakers were in a play-off game. ( .4 seconds left in the game...winner moves on, losers go home...I thought, it was over, we were going to win but no. I was so crushed, angry, and hated everything more about the LA, the Lakers, California, etc...etc.

2nd comment: Did you guys talk to anybody on the whole David and Goliath theme how they felt, when a third party (the referees) contributed to the outcome of the game and how it made them feel?

Aug. 24 2011 04:11 PM
Jeremy from Chicago, Illinois

Loved the episode, as always, but I don't think that remarkable athletic achievements are necessarily once in a lifetime events, especially because professional athletes are so remarkably talented that there is very rarely something that hasn't been done before. For instance, the remarkable baseball-style goal that Gretzky scored is not only something that happens on occasion, but TSN (Canada's ESPN equivalent), ranked it only its number 2 baseball goal:

Keep up the great work, and I only wish your episodes came out more often!

Aug. 24 2011 04:03 PM
Phil from St. Louis, MO

Just so you know, I listen to public radio and love ice hockey.

Aug. 24 2011 02:15 PM
Dan Frasier from Sioux Falls, SD

You guys should read this. That story about the basketball team winning shorthanded happened in North Dakota 23 years ago, ALSO. So I guess it was "in the book"?

Aug. 24 2011 01:44 PM
Marshall Miller

I think there's room for a whole episode on games and another on sports fandom yet. Also, more science please.

Aug. 24 2011 12:42 PM
Erica Brehmer from Royal Oak, MI

Um, so you guys messed up the audio for the last part of this episode. Michigan State University played Butler in the NCAA tournament that you are talking about, not Michigan. You are playing Michigan's fight son (Hail to the Victors) not Michigan State's ( It's kind of a big mistake, and I think you guys might want to fix it.

Aug. 24 2011 12:17 PM
Eric from NYC

Does anyone know who did the music right after Stephen Dubners story, the organ music?

Aug. 24 2011 09:17 AM

Loved this episode, but I feel it would have been enhanced by at least some mention of the emotional swelling and barrier breaking unity caused by the New Orleans Saints 2009 season, a season so broadly considered to be of epic importance that the city was even given a few days rest during the post season, from otherwise constant violent crime

Aug. 24 2011 08:40 AM
justin from Halifax

Wow. Incredible episode and great sounds in the show

Aug. 24 2011 07:22 AM
justin from Halifax

Wow. Incredible episode and great sounds in the show

Aug. 24 2011 07:22 AM

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