NPR News Program: Only A Game

NPR is generally known for its often thought of as rather erudite coverage. Among the multitude of NPR News Radio’s beloved programs, there is one that somewhat stands apart. This show is the weekly sports broadcast Only A Game. It is NPR’s chief program that covers sports, which isn’t the first topic that comes to mind when stereotyping scholarly interests. However, this typecast would be wildly incorrect.

What is Only A Game about?

Only A Game provides reporting on what has happened in mainstream sports for the week. The show spans the duration of one hour. The typical sports that are discussed throughout this program include Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, as well as both women’s and men’s university sports. The coverage includes interviews with various mainstream sports analysts. Some of the contributing analysts are Kevin Hench covering the National Basketball Association, Dan Wetzel covering college football, Pat Forde covering college basketball, Tim Kurkjian covering baseball, and Helene Elliott covering the National Hockey League.

Unconventional Sports Coverage on Only A Game

One feature that listeners have come to love is the inclusion of quirky sports coverage and eccentric competitive happenings. Every week Charlie Pierce, a sports journalist, joins the show to talk about the oddities in the world of sports. Some areas of coverage include lobster boat racing (that could take place nowhere other than in Maine of course), a race that took place running up the many steps of the Empire State Building, and a competition for differently-abled athletes in the field of adaptive rowing.

Host of Only A Game

NPR News Radio’s Only A Game was hosted by Bill Littlefield for twenty-five years. His tenure with the show spanned from 1993 until July of 2018 after which time he decided to retire. Littlefield was a graduate of Yale University as well as the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In addition to his work with NPR News’ Only A Game, Littlefield also wrote numerous books. These works include:

  • 2015 The Top of His Game: The Best of Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz
  • 2014 Take Me Out
  • 2007 Only a Game
  • 2003 Fall Classics
  • 2002 The Circus in the Woods
  • 1998 The Best American Sports Writing
  • 1998 Keepers
  • 1993 Baseball Days
  • 1993 Champions: Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes
  • 1989 Prospect

Popular Episodes of Only a Game to check out:

  • How a First-Time Olympian Got a Second Chance at Glory
  • Soccer and Addiction, ‘Settle Your Beefs,’ Football After Hurricane Florence
  • How Getting Shot During a Marathon Made The ‘Bullet Man’ a Better Runner
  • The Origin of Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star,’ an Unintentional Sports Anthem
  • Enjoy Your Pre-Swim Sandwich – Without Fear of Death by Cramp
  • How Sportswriting Prepared Nell Scovell to Fight for Equality in Hollywood
  • The Image One Photographer Hopes Will Bring a Former Super Bowler Home
  • Curling Stones Sliding to Pyeongchang All the way From Scotland
  • The Quarterback who Completed a Pass to Lady Gaga at Super Bowl LI

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