Going Deep: Sports in the 21st Century

Sep 20, 2017

Blue Ridge Public Radio is proud to announce the launch of “Going Deep: Sports in the 21st Century”, a podcast that looks at some of the most pressing issues in sports and society.  The hosts are the husband and wife team of John Shoop and Marcia Mount Shoop.  John coached football for more than two decades in both the NFL and NCAA Division 1, while Marcia is a theologian, minister, and author of books such as “Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse.”  Marcia says she’s the only “feminist theologian” she knows of that’s married to a football coach.  Their backgrounds allow the Shoops to engage the toughest topics with intellect, humor, and years of first-hand experience in big-time sports. No issue is out of bounds on Going Deep.  The hosts explore how sports are used to promote certain kinds of religion, the lack of rights for college athletes, and the unlikely alliance that includes a former NFL quarterback in pushing for the legalization of medicinal cannabis.  For the Shoops, a W.I.N. is when listeners Wonder, Investigate, and Notice the dynamics of sports in a new way.

If you would like to reach out to us or give us your thoughts on the show, email us at GoingDeep@bpr.org

John and Marcia Mount Shoop

John and Marcia Mount Shoop have a lifetime of experience in sports as former athletes, coaches, parents of athletes, and as a football family for over two decades.

John coached in the NFL and Division I College Football for twenty-six years. Coach Shoop has served as offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach for some of the most storied franchises in the League: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Oakland Raiders. He was also the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of North Carolina and Purdue University.  Currently, John is teaching U.S. and World History at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, North Carolina.

Marcia has a PhD from Emory University and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. She is ordained to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Dr. Shoop is the author of Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports and A Body Broken, A Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, and Eucharist in White Dominant Churches and Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ.  Marcia is the pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina. 

Show List: 

 Muscular Christianity - The Shoops explore how sports were used and still are to further the reach of a certain kind of Christianity.  Their guest is Tom Krattenmaker of the Yale Divinity School, and author of the book Onward Christian Athletes. 

 Forced Faith - The Shoops continue their look at the intersection of sports and religion and why one brand of Christianity seems to trump all other religions in the locker room.  Their guests include Tom Krattenmaker of the Yale Divinity School and columnist for USA Today, and Buffalo Bills quarterback T.J. Yates, who played for John at the University of North Carolina. 

 The Unlikely Alliance to Legalize Medicinal Cannabis Part 1 - The Shoops examine the push to legalize medicinal cannabis, as some football players say it can provide a healthier alternative to treat concussions and other debilitating injuries they suffer on the field.  Guests include former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer, who was an NCAA All-American during his playing days at Arizona State University. 

 The Unlikely Alliance to Legalize Medicinal Cannabis Part 2 - The Shoops continue to dive into the push to legalize medicinal cannabis and how it’s united former football players and mothers of children who suffer from seizures and other conditions that can be treated by medicinal cannabis.  Guests include Heather Jackson, the founder and CEO of the Realm of Caring Foundation.  

The Fab 5 (or 5X) Part 1 - The Shoops look at the lasting legacy of the University of Michigan’s fabled Fab 5 men’s basketball team, not just in sports culture but also in how the NCAA doles out punishments to players and schools.  Guests include Ray Jackson and Jimmy King, members of that Michigan team.  

The Fab 5 (or 5X) Part 2 - The Shoops continue their examination of the legacy of the University of Michigan’s Fab 5 men’s basketball team 25 years after they first hit the court, and the role of race in how the players were punished by the NCAA.  Guests include Yago Colas, a former professor at Michigan who taught courses on sports studies. 

 The Culture of Rugby - The Shoops would not let their son play football until a certain age because of the risk of brain injuries.  When given the choice to pick a different sport to play, he choose rugby, much to the initial horror of his parents.  John and Marcia however quickly grew to love rugby and its culture of safety and inclusiveness.  They compare rugby culture with that of football with the help of guests like Taylor Gentry, who currently plays rugby professionally after his football career at North Carolina State University ended.  

The Shoops Talk Part 1 - The Shoops talk with BPR’s Matt Bush about their love of public radio and podcasting, and conversation which eventually pivots the issue that drove them out of professional and collegiate football – concussions.  

The Shoops Talk Part 2 - The Shoops talk with BPR’s Matt Bush about their experiences at the University of North Carolina, which culminated with the firing of the school’s football coaching staff including John in 2011 because of an ongoing academic scandal.   

 The Recruiting Arms Race - Colleges and universities are spending more and more money to recruit athletes to their campuses.  The Shoops look at what is fueling the 'recruiting arms race' and how it affects the very athletes it's supposed to impress.  In particular looking at the lavish lockers the University of Texas just built for its football team.  Each locker costs more than $10-thousand dollars.  

The Shoops Talk Part 3 - The Shoops talk with BPR's Matt Bush about the role of religion in the locker room - and sports in general.

The Shoops Talk Part 4 - The Shoops talk with BPR's Matt Bush about success and disillusionment, and Marcia's belief that sports fans are seeking redemption in their fandom, as outlined in her book Touchdowns For Jesus & Other Signs Of Apolcalypse

The History Of Black Athlete Protests - The 'Take A Knee' protests have continued throughout the 2017 NFL season, becoming so widespread that President Donald Trump even weighed in on them.  The Shoops examine the history of protests by black athletes in the U.S. and find 'Take A Knee' is the latest in a long line of such demonstrations throughout the country's history.  Their guest - columnist and ESPN & NPR contributor Kevin Blackistone - says this is because sports are one of the few arenas where African-Americans are taken seriously in the U.S.

College Basketball's Newest 'Scandal' - In September, the U.S. attorney for southern New York announced indictments against several assistant basketball coaches at some of the most prestigious programs in the country, as well as against representatives for Adidas.  The announcement rocked the sport, but the Shoops say what's alleged has been going on in college sports for decades, and should not come as a surprise.  Their guest is current Bloomberg View and former New York Times writer Joe Nocera.

Super Bowl 52 - Super Bowl 52 on February 4th, 2018 between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will conclude a tumultuous 2017 NFL season.   From the Take A Knee protests to increasing questions of how seriously players concussions are being treated to Jerry Richardson announcing he'll sell the Carolina Panthers following numerous allegations of misconduct in the workplace, it was a season with major headlines that weren't focused on plays.  The Shoops discuss the future of the NFL in this episode, which was recorded originally as a Facebook Live chat on the BPR News Facebook page.

2018 Final Four - The men's and women's basketball Final Fours take place Easter Weekend in San Antonio and Columbus. They culminate what has been an eventful college basketball season - one that started with an FBI investigation into payments to players and finishes with a memorable March Madness.  The Shoops look to put all of this in perspective with their typical sharp insight and wit.  This episode was originally recorded as a Facebook Live video on the Blue Ridge Public Radio page.

The UNC Football Scandal Revisited Part 1 - John was the offensive coordinator for the University of North Carolina football team from 2007 to 2011.  During that time, the program and university were rocked by an academic scandal that lead to players suspensions, NCAA bans, and the whole coaching staff being fired.  Our hosts begin a two-part look back at that time with their guest Bob Orr, a retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice whom they first met during the scandal when he represented one of John's players in a fight against the NCAA.

The UNC Football Scandal Revisited Part 2 - John and Marcia continue their talk with retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice Bob Orr, who's has been part of several lawsuits and other legal actions taken against the NCAA.  Our hosts discuss those with him, plus take a look at where NCAA rules and enforcement may be heading.

Micro Concussions & Sports Part 1 - John's final football coaching job was at the Purdue University, where he and Marcia met professors Eric Nauman and Tom Talavadge.  The duo had just finished a groundbreaking study on micro concussions by working with a high school football team in Indiana, and our hosts were blown away with what the research showed - so much so that it in many ways led to John losing his job.  In the first of two parts, the Shoops discuss with Nauman and Talavadge what their research discovered.

Micro Concussions & Sports Part 2 - John and Marcia continue their conversation with Purdue University professors Eric Nauman and Tom Talavadge about their research into micro concussion in sports.  In this episode, they focus on how that research can be acted upon in football.

The Historical Basketball League Part 1 - The Historical Basketball League (HBL) is a proposed sports league that would be the first to pay college players as they receive their education.  Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) would participate in the league, which is hoping to launch in either 2019 or 2020.  According to its website, the HBL "gives schools and athletes an option outside of the traditional NCAA model – providing a choice of whether to go "pro" while in college or to be amateur about it."  John and Marcia speak with sports economist Andy Schwarz, who is helping launch the league.

The Historical Basketball League Part 2 - John and Marcia continue their conversation with sports economist Andy Schwarz about the Historical Basketball League - a proposed sports league that would be the first to pay college baksetball players as they receive their education.  In this episode, our hosts and guest focus on how the NCAA might react to the league.

June 2018 Roundup - Our hosts take a look at some of the big topics in sports as June 2018 begins with BPR's Matt Bush - including the NFL's new national anthem policy making players stand or stay in the locker room during its performance, the recent Supreme Court ruling that will pave the way for legalized sports gambling across the U.S., and the Stanley Cup Finals which pit the long-suffering Washington Capitals against the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team on the cusp of winning a championship in its first season.  This was orginally recorded as a Facebook Live chat on May 30th, 2018.

The Parallels Of Religion & Sport Part 1 - Our hosts really follow the title of their show in this episode.  They 'go deep' with BPR's Matt Bush to examine the parallels of sports and religion.  You can hear the 'a-ha' moments throughout the show as John and Marcia find new connections between the worlds of sports and religion that they have inhabited throughout their lives.

The Parallels of Religion & Sport Part 2 - In this episode, our conversation picks up from our last show.  John & Marcia continue to examine the many ways sports and religion parallel one another - with a focus in this show on faith, outcomes, and those who wander away but return.  

Origin Stories Part 1 - Our hosts look at the origin stories of the three major professional sports in the U.S. - football, baseball, and basketball.  Their guest is Dr. Randall Balmer, author and professor at Dartmouth College.  They examine the social movements and cultural moments in U.S. history that gave birth to the three sports that capture fans imaginations.

Origin Stories Part 2 - In this episode, our hosts conclude their look at the origins of the three major sports in the U.S.  This show in particular looks at basketball, and how one rule change prevented it from essentially becoming indoor football.  Dr. Randall Balmer of Dartmouth College also explains how baseball most closely mirrors the immigrant experience in the United States.

Student Athlete - In this episode, John and Marcia discuss their appearance in the HBO documentary Student Athlete, which premiered October 2nd, 2018.  Produced by Lebron James' production company and directed by Academy-award winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the documentary examines the collegiate amateur athletic model in the U.S., and the uncompensated athletes that fuel it.  Many of the topics in the film are issues that our hosts have discussed on previous episodes of Going Deep.