The Podcasts keeping me sane through lockdown!
As we head into week 6 (I think… It feels like forever) of lock down with no clear sign of change on the horizon I’m really struggling with the lack of sport to watch. My favourite teams and players are isolating and as amusing as their Instagram stories and TikTok posts are, I’m really missing things. Thankfully podcasts really help provide both a sense of continuity and a suggestion of conversation, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of my favourites.
I’ve come to realise just how important sport is to my wellbeing. Whether it’s heading to the Madejski to shout myself hoarse in support of London Irish, following the Red Roses or getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Maple Leafs try and give me a heart attack, sport has long been a way for me to vent my emotions, to ride the highs and lows and, as someone who spends most of the time feeling like an outsider, it gives me a sense of belonging and involvement.
Podcasts are a big part of that, a bridge between the sports and their fans so here are a few I listen into every week, mostly covering rugby and Ice Hockey, there are a couple that span multiple disciplines. The one theme ere though is that they are all insightful, interesting and unafraid to approach things from a different point of view.
The Steve Dangle Podcast
I’ve been listening to this podcast from its very early days and while it has always been both a lot of fun and a great source of info on the Maple Leafs and the NHL in general it has developed into the perfect example of how to make a podcast really slick and at the same time utterly relatable. Steve himself is a whirlwind bundle of energy, a professional sports fan he epitomises the hope and despair we all feel following a team that has an uncanny ability to disappoint. Adam Wylde, a well-known radio personality in his own right provides balance and holds the show together and the continued emergence of producer Jesse Blake into a vital third personality has made this a must-listen whether I’m commuting or sat on the sofa.
Blood & Mud
The antithesis of the boorish, lad culture that seems inherent in so many other rugby podcasts. Lee and Josh provide a different take on the action on and off the rugby pitch each week. Between some great in jokes (the loneliness of the long distance Mallinder is a personal favourite) and a down to earth viewpoint on what is often an elitist sport this is fast becoming one of the few pods that talks about rugby, or at least the top end male professional elements of it, in a way I recognise. They run a Patreon scheme with some excellent extra content too. The rugby history episodes with Tony Collins being worth the subscription by themselves.
The Leaf Report
Exactly what you’d expect from The Athletic. Some really impressive insight on the game, supported by analytics and coupled with commentary not only from two excellent journalists but a myriad of folk from the Leafs organisation and beyond.
The Women’s Rugby Pod
Johnnie Hammond has covered women’s rugby for a long time. Rachael Burford has played the game at the very top level and between them they have the knowledge, insight and contacts to provide a weekly slice of rugby chat that is always entertaining. Through the lockdown period they are deep diving into the careers of some of the game’s biggest characters, asking legends to share their top 15s and clearly loving every minute!
This podcast, named after Elliotte Friedman’s must-read weekly column, is often a deep dive into the subjects affecting hockey. Generally there will be an interview or two, but it’s the combination of Friedman’s finger on the pulse of the game and co-host Jeff Marek’s encyclopaedic knowledge of hockey history that make this a fascinating listen.
Women Who Sport
Two Scottish rugby internationals (Rhona Lloyd and Sarah Bonar) who speak with other female athletes about their sports, their approaches to training and fitness and the lives they lead. It can veer toward the technical side of fitness a little too much for a lazy oaf like me to always fully understand but at the core this is a podcast about women consistently breaking through the glass ceiling and dragging their achievements into the public eye.
Nick Heath’s ‘Life Commentary’ is rightfully garnering him a lot of attention right now but these podcasts keep me entertained. I’ve always been interested in peering ‘behind the curtain’ to see how shows are made, understand the mechanics of things and generally try to see from more than just the view that is presented to the public, so these interviews about the art of commentary are fascinating and Nick speaks to the very best about their experiences and approach.
Of course there are a wealth of options out there to listen to so not every podcast is right for every listener but I hope if you’ve read this far you’ll find something that has piqued your interest. If so, go look it up and have a listen, and why not leave a comment sharing some of your favourites too!