Only A Game

Reviews For Only A Game

I remember waking up early in the morning for a fencing tournament (to referee), on a weekend in Texas, and turning on NPR out of habit well before 7 am. Hearing Only a Game, I immediately knew this was a show that took odd sports as seriously as mainstream sports. I’ve enjoyed the show ever since, over the four states I’ve lived in since then. Thanks to Bill Littlefield and the team who understand that sports have stories, no matter how much money money attaches to them.
I was not previously aware that GOATs could be so articulate or informative. That said, Only A Game is no doubt my fav podcast, npr or otherwise. Keeps me in the loop all the way from Berlin! Ps say hi to CPizzle (that’s Charlie Pierce, for all you n00bs) for me; he too is a chiller 🤙
I’m not a typical guy who likes sports. I don’t watch any games, have a favorite team or play. But I love this show! Bill Littlefield is very entertaining and they do a great job at interviewing and bringing out the best of those they interview. If you do enjoy sports, this show is bound to be one of the best for you!

5/5

Great sports podcast.
Long ago I had the pleasure of hosting residencies for Harry Edwards and Murray Sperber at the University of Illinois. Both of these professors of sports sociology were clear: sports mirror society. Only a Game takes this route and adds great insights to the individual human condition of athletes, of the business of sports, and the nature of the craziness of the fans that drive this insitution. I listen to podcasts daily, and, as a high-school coach, tell some of these stories to the athletes I work with to help them understand the context of their endeavors.
For years my routine includes a long jog on Saturdays. ‘Only A Game’ entertains me through the miles. I have been known to laugh out loud or even shed a tear during the miles I listen to the sports stories and random topics. I recommend this podcast to all my friends and family-sports enthusiast or not. When I hear Bill say, “the final word....” I am disappointed as I know the remainder of the run becomes significantly harder without OAG playing.
Many of the stories are well done and very interesting, BUT the host is so bias against football (especially the NFL) that is gets tedious after awhile. OK we get it, you’re hip and so cool because you like soccer but take a break from your high horse will you?
It's worth your while.
This is my ‘go-to’ podcast whenever I’m feeling happy, sad, excited, down...I could have stopped at WHENEVER! Bill and crew captivate me for the entire 50 minutes every week and, truth be told, I’ve been known to listen to last week’s game a second time if I can’t wait til the next podcast is out. Only a Game tells me stories I never would have known in thoughtful ways that tug at my heartstrings. Oh - and it’s about sports! - my passion, though I’d recommend it to everyone with a heart. Thanks, Bill, for one of the brightest hours in my week, every week.
Sports for the critical and creative thinker with a mischievous and witty sense of humor who appreciates respectful, responsible reporting and compelling storytelling, whether you’re a participant or spectator. 10 stars.
When our local NPR station moved Only A Game from 7a Sunday to 7a Saturday I knew I had to subscribe to the podcast so I would not miss an episode and could listen at my convenience. Love listening on my daily walks. Very intriguing. Great stories (well told). Very vivid images. I continue to learn a lot. So glad I found Only a Game and glad it's available as a podcast.
I'm a former sportswriter and appreciate the stories that don't appear in mainstream sports media. I also appreciate the honest appraisal of the machinations of the dreadful NCAA. Thanks for reminding us to look beyond the craven and see the humane.
I enjoy this podcast because it reminds me that “sport” extends beyond the big money, star adoration world of pro and college sports to include ordinary people whose accomplishments could not have been foreseen, and, as in the wizard of Oz, draws back the curtain of myth manufactured by the publicity machines that spin our interpretation of people and events.
This podcast has some interesting stories on occasion, but overall it is not worth listening in my opinion. They spend too much time talking about off-the-field issues, and their conclusion always seems to be the same- the sport in question has something bad going on, and we’re going to whine about it, but keep watching anyways. They seem to talk about these issues for the sake of appearances rather than actually trying to change anything. Bill always seems befuddled. The last straw for me was when he said his favorite things about basketball were “the long shots and the dunks.” This is a sports show hosted by someone who doesn’t seem very knowledgeable about any sports other than American football and women’s hockey.
This is a show that I feel appeals to everyone! Even if you are not into sports, it's the stories that are amazing. Canoeing to South America from Minnesota, dissing Hitler, Tongan cross country skier with other cross country skiers from countries without snow, etc. This is the CBS Sunday Morning except with sports! I went to podcast because I would miss parts getting in and out of the car going to work, now I can listen to the whole show!
I have been listening to Only a Game weekly for years and it is one of my favorite podcasts. Not only do you get updates on the most recent sports events but you get great reporting from host Bill Littlefield and friends. This is a great podcast not only for sports enthusiasts but also for anyone who is interested in seeing how sports are a mirror into our society.
I love Only a Game. It's smart, informed and accessible to anyone. It's great to hear stories from the perspective of those closest to the game -- the athletes themselves, their coaches and family. They're human tales that would resonate with anyone. It is facinating to hear the backstories of different sports and how everything has laddered up to the games as we know them now. The consideration of social influences is intelligent and grounded. I'll tell you, I am a much bigger sports fan myself since I first started listening. Thank you for your great work and giving me some talking points with the sportsfans in my life.
I first started listening to the show in its early days. In those pre-Internet days, you had to be near your radio at the right time, so I missed a lot of episodes. The podcast has solved that, and now I never miss a show!
I teach at a boarding school that has Saturday classes, and one of the only things that makes that okay is waking up with this podcast. My local station in RI plays OAG on Saturdays at 7, so it’s been part of my ritual for years, but I found myself missing bits while I ground coffee or took a shower. Listening to the podcast (and skipping back when necessary) makes sure I catch every word!
This is a sports show that assumes you have a brain and also like sports. Even if you don't normally like sports, you should try it. I try never to miss it.
Thoughtful, funny, entertaining, heartwarming . . . and I don't even like sports! My favorite podcast. Never miss it.
This podcast makes me feel that there can be compelling sports based audio journalism. SPORTS!!!
More wits than hits. A refreshing approach to all things sport. But c'mon Bill, throw a soccer fan a bone every so often...
I look forward to Only a Game every week. I have learned so much about sports that I thought I didn’t care about and athletes whose stories I would never have known without this show. Thank you to Bill Littlefield and his team for making us laugh, cry and expand our horizons through your passionate storytelling and insightful news.
Wonderful meander through sports with interest in people and their dedication. Makes me a little smarter while I laugh and cry at the charming stories. Keep it up.
I like this podcast so much. Really human stories, interspersed with informative history. The one I listened to today talked about the reasons the Baltimore Colts with Johnny Unitas had such a close relationship with their fans, By the way, Bill Littlefield, another team with a very close relationship with its’ fans was the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup winning Philadelphia Flyers. I’d love to hear a story about them.

2/5

This used to be my favorite podcast but Bill’s contempt for the NFL drags the show down.
This program is entertaining and funny. Don’t be intimidated. These are great stories about current and past events for everyone.
Maine Public Radio broadcasts this show on Saturday mornings at 7:00 a.m. I try to wake early to hear it because it is a great way to start the day. I’m deeply grateful that it has become a podcast so I can catch up on what I nap through. Sports reporting has been overcome by the 24-hour chase for controversy that has plagued the rest of journalism. This program is a refreshing antidote. Escape the “news” and enjoy weekly stories that remind you of why you loved sports in the first place. Yes, there is still a place for healing humor.
OAG. Helps me to hear a different perspective of sports. Not having time to watch T V. I love the back stories of people /sports that I would not otherwise find on my own. Bill Littlefield is a great host. 3 stories you should know. The segment with Charlie Pierce is awesome. That could be a whole new podcast for me. Thanks one of the best hours of my weekend!
I love it! I’m not a sports fan in any sense of the word, but find this show so much fun. They provide excellent stories that are completely engaging. I highly recommend it.
I have been listening to Only A Game from the beginning. My Saturday mornings were always started off by the wit and intellegence of Bill and the Only A Game staff. The podcasts now allow me to get a fix whenever I am in the car. The show covers all sports not just the big four. Where else can you hear about a canoe trip from Candana to the Amazon or the race across the US on a mule? Even when talking about the big four the show brings new insight and opinion that other media do not cover. Thanks for all the great stories. Looking forward to many more in the years to come. Happy New Year.
This show is a breath of fresh air. I listen to this podcast as soon as I can when it comes out. Nowhere else can you find such a fresh grounded perspective on what sports is. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to this show right now.
I worked in college sports for 10+ years and I’m now a PhD student researching college athletics amateurism in the United States. ‘Only A Game’ is a fascinating listen. I’ve learned a few new things about college and pro sports events. Sports fan or not, this is worth the listen every single episode.
This is one of my absolute favorite podcasts. Bill always has stories that transcend through sports. Thank you Bill! Douglas
I look forward to the latest episode each Saturday morning during my drive home from work. After a hectic overnight Friday shift as an Emergency Physician, this provides for such a wonderful, light hearted, knowledge packed 50 minutes. Thanks!
LOL here as Bill Littlefield weaves a masterpiece each week. OAG gives great commentary on news and developments in the world of sports. His guests and staff entertain with stories that are outstanding. I found these to be excellent examples and worth finding to listen to, including: How Muhammad Ali’s daughters boxing unfolded and how Ali handled it, a father and sons World Record Canoe trip down the Mississippi and beyond, Why NY city style of basketball is different, and how a young blind Rower found a way to compete in regular competition. In closing, 3 things you should know. There’s a terrific segment each week called 3 things you should know, Charlie Pierce adds a nice perspective each week, and there are lots of laughs each week because they dont take themselves too seriously here. This is a regular, must listen podcast for me every week. Try it, you’ll like it! Paul B Ipswich Mass
I am a woman in my 70's. I have never been a sportsfan - I don't watch games, I don't read the sports section in the paper - but I really enjoy listening to Only a Game. There are always intelligent discussions and stories about sports and the politics of sports. They don't yell at each other or at the listeners, there is intelligent humor and the presenters and producers know when to take sports seriously and when to have fun with it. I especially love the segment with Charlie Pierce. Keep it up.
great stories every week you won’t find anywhere else.
Sports coverage that is so diverse, even Howard Cosell would listen.
I'm usually not a great listener, just ask my wife, but this program is so enjoyable. I find it difficult not to give it my 100% attention.
I have been listening for several years, first on my pubic radio station& now via podcast- which guarantees I won’t miss all or part of the show. Great sports reporting. In depth. Behind the scenes. Articulate. Unique.
Every week when me & my fiancé listen to ONLY A GAME: Her: “Are you crying?” Me: “SO? You’re crying!!!” And by every episode’s end, we have both experienced every range of our emotions together — we’ve laughed, cried, and hugged — so many thanks to the production team & their talents at ONLY A GAME. You have yourselves two (2) fans for life!!!
Really I know nothing about sports. But this show is interesting, intelligent, funny, poignant. Sometimes I slide the repeat so I can hear Bill Littlefield and Charlie Piece laugh again. I learn a little about sports but more about the silliness, dedication and humanity of the game. And it has taken me three times to write this review because whatever name I pick has been taken so you know I really like this program.
So I'm at the gym, gravelled for lack of podcasts, and I decide to search the NPR1 app for something new. On a whim, I enter "Baseball" which leads me to "It's Only a Game." Like it says in the title, I'm all about baseball; football, basketball...meh. So after two episodes this podcast has me sitting in a parking lot, unwilling to start my car until I finish a story about an Iranian chess master. Chess! This is an AMAZING podcast!
I *love* this show! Every week there is at least one story I am compelled to share with others. I have heard stories here that make me cry, and some that have me laughing out loud, sitting here all by myself.
Several years ago you did a story about sking on Mount Greylock. I was in the car listening with my 92 year old mother who has short term memory loss. Your story brought her back to the days of working for GE in Pittsfield and how they used to hike up Mount Greylock after work so they could ski down. She talked about it for an hour. I've listened to the podcst every week since. Thanks for that connection with my mother.
It’s not about sports. It’s about history, sociology, human behavior, and more, seen through the window of sports. Always informative, interesting, and fun! Go Only a Game team!
Thanks, Bill and Team, for all the on beat and off beat stories every Saturday morning all these years.