Off Guard: Sports is a numbers game

Two-time Olympian Perdita Felicien leads CBC Sports' latest podcast: Off Guard. Every week, one unconventional theme is considered three different ways. The third episode is available now.

2-time Olympian Perdita Felicien examines unconventional themes weekly

Two-time Olympian Perdita Felicien leads CBC Sports' latest podcast: Off Guard. (Jason Boychuk/CBC)

Hosted by two-time Olympian Perdita Felicien, Off Guard provides one unconventional theme each week, considered three different ways.

Check out the this week's episode:

Sports a numbers game

This time we are testing the old sporting adage, "it all comes down to a numbers game." If the saying is true, any number we pick should reveal something interesting about the sports we love. So we spin the old roulette wheel, sit back and watch the marble clatter and bounce into slot 11. Great! Number 11. Whose idea was this, anyway?

Well, in fact, it's almost like we planned this thing. Eleven is a perfect number to help us understand a variety of sports.

First, Host Perdita Felicien gets us thinking about women's soccer elevens, and in particular the bad beef between Canadian and American national teams. The rivalry has simmered for years, but the heat really turned up after a disastrously officiated soccer match at the London 2012 Olympics. Perdita turns to two sources to understand the enmity. Karina LeBlanc, former goalkeeper, takes us inside the Canadian experience. Then we turn to American Dan Lauletta, whose writing at Equalizer Soccer has been devoted to the women's game for many, many years now. It should come as no surprise that from his perspective, Canadians make much more of the bad blood than do our southerly cousins. From which we conclude that it is easier to be magnanimous when you win all the time.

Reporter Jamie Strashin is watching a watershed year in the life of many young athletes. At 11 years old, just when they should be dabbling in all kinds of activities, a good portion of elite kids are having to commit to one sport, to the exclusion of all others. It seems wrong, but that is the harsh reality of the Gladwellian "10,000 hours to be an expert" maxim. If kids want to be scholarship level and pro athlete potential, they need to devote many focussed hours every single week, starting as young as 11 years old. It is a tough call, to say the least.

The number 11 has Peter Mahovlich and Bob Cole rolling up their sleeves and chatting about all the jersey 11s they encountered over the years in Hockey Night in Canada Off the Record.  No. 11 Mark Messier earns their respect, of course, as do 11s Saku Koivu and  Dan Alfredsson, but a reverential hush falls over the studio as Pete and Bob both pause to consider what is perhaps the greatest 11 of all time…Henri Richard's 11 Stanley Cup Wins.  A record never to be broken?

To listen to the podcast, click cbc.ca/offguard

To subscribe and tell us what you think, email us at offguard@cbc.ca


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