Player's Own Voice

POV podcast: Luger John Fennell on his unique sporting perspective as a dual citizen

On this week's episode of the Player's Own Voice podcast, John Fennell, member of Canadian and American national teams, discusses differences between the two sporting cultures.

Veteran has seen Canadian and American sport from the inside

John Fenell brings an insider perspective to questions about how Canada and America's cultures differ in the ways they embrace sport (Image submitted by John Fennell)

John Fennell is your thinker's athlete. 

The luger has made some hard choices in his career. And then he's had to live with the consequences. 

He was a young man when he came out of the closet. No regrets about being true to himself, but the simplistic stories that the media tell can get tired quickly. 

For a young man with a lot going on, being reduced to "the openly gay athlete" took some processing. 

As that was happening, Fennell saw a career opportunity opening in the United States. He has dual citizenship and his years with Team Canada had yielded mixed results in competition. 

So now, having made the most difficult choice of his career by switching nations to slide for America, he has become a keen inside observer of Canadian and American sport culture.

Fennell and host of the Player's Own Voice podcast, former Olympian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis, hunker down to chat about the cultural forces that Fennell sees which set the two countries apart.  

Fennell thinks about fundamental things like the effect of federal funding for Olympic sport – as in Canada – versus private funding, which is the case for the USOC. 

He also tackles the roles of media in sport celebrity. What happens when an athlete becomes a celebrity and then becomes an entertainment commodity?

Juicy questions and Fennell has been thinking about them enough that his POV podcast conversation spills over into a POV essay, which is coming next week. 

John Fennell's chat and all the other conversations in our growing list of POV podcasts is available free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your podcasts.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.