A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


More than an athlete

Former athletes are taking the podcast game by storm
Alex Ruiz
From “All the Smoke” to “The Pivot,” there are plenty of podcast options for you to choose from featuring your favorite athletes.

We’ve reached a crossroads in sports media where traditional media and social media are colliding: more former and current athletes are taking the helm and now creating sports content of their own.

This trend of athlete-led content will be the norm of sports media. Don’t be surprised to see more athletes dominating on the field and in the podcast charts.

Podcast clips, Instagram reels and TikTok teasers are one of the ways their content goes viral and their stories reach many new listeners.

With generations of traditional sports media writing false narratives and stories about different sports, this current generation of athletes are taking the reins of sports media: the topics covered, the content consumed by fans and now telling their own stories without the inaccuracies.

Local news, sports channels on TV and radio shows have been the conventional outlets for consuming sports content.

ESPN, NBA-TV, NFL Network and Fox Sports spend the entire day dedicating programming to discuss narratives and analyzing games with the help of former athletes. Local beat reporters cover and write about games: getting quotes from players and coaches to provide insight that fans don’t have access to.

The tables have turned; the microphones are no longer exclusively in the journalist or reporter’s hands. Athletes, past and present, provide the most insight and storytelling surrounding sports because they’ve been in the locker rooms, laced up their cleats and played the games we as fans adored and respected them for.

According to Spotify, the top sports podcast in the world is currently “New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce.” The pair of brothers recently played in this year’s Super Bowl and are among the upper echelon of players in their respective positions in the NFL. They give their perspective of their games on Sunday and tell stories that not many would have heard if not for their podcast. The Kelce brothers bring on their teammates and coaches as guests to tell stories and discuss key moments in the season.

In Travis Kelce’s case, his relationship with popstar Taylor Swift has thrust him under a greater microscope than ever. He didn’t address his relationship with Taylor Swift or her presence at his games with beat reporters but discussed these topics during a segment on his podcast.

In the NBA, current players are taking the podcast game by storm. “All the Smoke,” “Podcast P with Paul George,” “The Draymond Green Show” and “The Pat Bev Podcast with Rone” are all podcasts hosted by current NBA players that pull the curtain behind the scenes of being a professional athlete including untold stories with teammates, reliving locker room war stories and setting the record straight on false narratives from the media.


Paul Geroge, the six-time All-NBA player, has brought on LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, All-Star’s DeMar DeRozan and NBA Champion Klay Thompson just to name a few onto his “Podcast P with Paul George.” Talking to a fellow player, as opposed to traditional reporters is a more comfortable scenario for players to open up and engage in long informative content for fans to enjoy.

If the industry has indicated how much investing sports conglomerates are investing into their former professional athlete on-air personalities, ESPN this past summer hired former Undisputed host and Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe and former All-Pro NFL punter Pat McAfee.

McAfee has hosted a popular online show since 2019 that has been the model of athlete-led content. “The Pat McAfee Show has over 2.3 million subscribers on YouTube and has become the place to digest NFL news and analysis from a former player. On Sept. 7, 2023, The Pat McAfee Show moved to ESPN as part of a reported five-year $85 million deal. The first two hours of the show air on the main ESPN network, while all three hours air on ESPN+, ESPN’s YouTube channel, and McAfee’s channel.

Sharpe, a podcast host in his own right of the growing “Club Shay Shay” and “Night Cap” with Chad Johnson, officially joined ESPN’s First Take on Sept. 4, 2023, after his contract with Fox Sports ended and was not renewed. Unc has grown to be one of the biggest sports show personalities beginning as an NFL on CBS Halftime Report analyst before getting his opportunity with Skip Bayless on FS1’s “Undisputed with Skip and Shannon.”

The outcries and rumblings of sports media companies from fans to hire and televise some of their favorite athletes became louder and more apparent when these two hit the free agent market.

The people spoke… and the companies delivered.

ESPN hiring two of the biggest independent sports entities signifies a shift in sports content.

These raw conversions are more insightful as athletes are more open and willing to share a safe space with fellow players. This rise in athlete-driven media is how many sports fans want to digest their content instead of hearing a report about a game from a broadcaster.

To quote Coach Prime, the greatest cornerback in NFL history, former journalist and television personality, “We ain’t coming – we are here!”

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About the Contributor
Alex Ruiz
Alex Ruiz, Multimedia Editor
Alex Ruiz is the Multimedia Editor. He has been invested in journalism and covering stories since enrolling in Mt. SAC in 2021. He likes covering sports and sharing his opinions. He also runs his own newsletter covering the LA Galaxy, The Galactic Tribune. He also has a cool cat.

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