Cameron Stracher, Author of “Kings of the Road”

The fact that the Boston bombing occurred at a marathon – a celebration of one of America’s most popular participation sports – is not lost on many of us. My next guest, Cameron Stracher, calls running a marathon “an act of faith,” and he has written about the freedom that comes with putting on a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement. Stracher is the author of “Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)


Jonathan Hock, 8-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer & editor

ESPN’s 30 for 30: What began as 30 documentaries to celebrate the network’s 30th birthday has become a signature for some of the best storytelling around the role of sports in society. The series is headlined by award-winning directors – people like Barry Levenson and Ice Cube and Jonathan Hock. An 8-time Emmy winner, Hock’s 30 for 30 films include one on football flameout Marcus Dupree and another on the inspirational 1983 North Carolina State NCAA championship basketball team. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Daniel Coyle, co-Author “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France”

You don’t have to follow professional cycling — heck, you don’t have to know how to ride a bike — to know that Lance Armstrong‘s downfall is is an epic, a Greek tragedy played out in the mountains of France. Armstrong, of course, announced last month he would no longer fight the overwhelming evidence that he systematically used and his the use of performance-enhancing drugs to become the greatest cyclist in the sport’s history. He has since been stripped of his record 7 Tour de France titles, dropped by sponsors like Nike and Oakley, even kicked out of his world-renowned charity Livestrong. So what drives an intense, even obsessed competitor to the point where they’ll do anything to win — and more. Almost no one has looked closer at this issue than Daniel Coyle. Most recently Dan co-wrote “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France“. Before that, he wrote “Lance Armstrong’s War”, which provided “a hugely insightful look into the often inspiring, always surprising core of a remarkable athlete and the world that shapes him.” Dan is also the author of “The Talent Code”, the New York Times Bestseller that explains new tools with which we can unlock our own talents. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Dr. Robert Cantu, Professor of Neurosurgery at Boston Univ. on Concussions

From pro football to the pee wees, international soccer to girls youth leagues and beyond, the latest concern in sports has nothing to do with competition,  sportsmanship or even TV money. It’s concussions. As quickly as we realized that seat belts save lives and texting while driving kills, a whole new consciousness exists around what happens when your brain shakes violently. This sociological and medical shift occurred seemingly overnight, faster than cigarettes were snuffed from resataurants or calorie counts appeared on menus. If you’re not aware of the issues around concussions, then you may not have listened to Dr. Robert Cantu, professor of neurosurgery at Boston University, senior consultant to the National Football League and co-author of “Concussion and Our Kids: American’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes”. As much as anyone, Dr. Cantru drove the concussion discussion, and he joins us now. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Walt Bogdanich, New York Times

Of the many sports that have seen allegations and evidence of performance-enhancing drugs — baseball, football, cycling — that list has a new, four-legged companion: Horse-racing. For the last several months, a disturbing and devastating series in the NY Times has shown how horses are overmedicated – with drugs like corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories that can have dangerous consequences – and poor or limited oversight have put the horses in danger and the sport under suspicion.  In fact, just this month, Members of two Congressional committees investigating the drugging of racehorses sent letters to racing regulators in 39 states for information on how trainers with multiple drug violations are disciplined and how often certain performance-enhancing treatments are used. Walt Bogdanich is one of America’s great investigative journalists. He has won four Polk Awards and an incredible three Pulitzer Prizes. And with this current investigation, he will likely be considered for a fourth. Walt, thanks for joining me. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Chris Dufresne, LA Times Sports Columnist

Both off and on the field, college sports has again hit the front pages. This time it’s football. The week began with the fast and clear guilty verdict in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn St, coach charged with sexually abusing several boys over some 10 or more years. It called into question the integrity of — allegedly — one of America’s great programs. Then on Tuesday, another decision, this one will affect play on the field. For the first time, after seemingly annual controversies over who’s No. 1, the college presidents voted to institute a playoff system in 2014. Will this end the controversy? After Sandusky, will anyone care? College football, a multi-billion dollar business is at a crossroads. To help us with directions, we’re joined by Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times columnist. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

It’s one of the greatest brands in the world. A sport that has gotten everything right — stars, television, global interest. But now the NFL has gotten sacked. It turns out that one of the teams, the New Orleans Saints, was systematically trying to injure opposing players. It was a bounty system — hurt an opposing player, get paid. Knock the player out of the game. Get paid more. And this was known by the players, the coaches, even the general manager. And like many scandals, it was not just the actions themselves that were offensive, but the cover up. Now penalties — including year long suspensions have been handed out — and the NFL is trying to recover. Will it? That’s what Michael Silver, Yahoo! sports columnist and one of the people who broke this story, is here to tell us. (Originally broadcast 5-12-12 on The John Batchelor Show)