The Science of Sports, with Hope Solo

Credit: Christopher Johnson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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About This Episode

This week on StarTalk Radio, we’re turning our science eye towards the wide world of sports and the psychology of athletes. Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Hope Solo, Olympic gold medalist/U.S. national soccer team goalkeeper, about the science of sports. Neil is joined in studio by comic co-host Chuck Nice and sport psychologist Dr. Brent Walker, and they dive into the mental and physical sciences that lie beneath the sports we love. Explore how crowd behavior can affect athletes in different ways depending on the sport. Investigate the positives and negatives of sport specialization – when children from an early age pick one specific sport to focus on. You’ll also hear how Hope deals with being confident and how she credits her parents for allowing her to have a normal childhood while still staying competitive. Find out why children who play sports on a “school yard” level are better at conflict resolution and decision making. Uncover the negative effects adults bring when running organized sports programs, and reassess Malcolm Gladwell’s famous “10,000 hours rule.” You’ll learn why athletes who make things look easy get less television coverage, the psychology behind showboating to get attention, and how emotional intelligence and mental focus translate into leadership on the field. Hope not only shares her biggest weakness and her mental process during a penalty shootout, but she even tells Neil about her early failure as a rocket scientist, and the connection her hometown has with the atom bomb and the Manhattan Project. Mark McClusky, Digital Editor at Sports Illustrated, drops in to discuss the use of data and analytics to understand athletic performance. Data journalist Mona Chalabi weighs in on female high school sports participation across the country, and Bill Nye is out to prove that the more science a goalkeeper knows, the more successful they’ll be. All that, plus, Neil answers fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about the physics of soccer.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Science of Sports, with Hope Solo, as well as Neil’s extended interview with Hope Solo here. If you’d like to hear even more with Neil and Hope, check them out in our Playing with Science episode, Soccer: The Art of Goalkeeping, with Hope Solo.

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