Many longtime fans of the Premier League will remember the very recognizable voice of co-commentator Gary O’Reilly, who was a regular fixture of the weekend calendar for many years. The former Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace defender was a trusted voice you could depend on for keen tactical observations.
And then suddenly he went missing from the world-feed.
I recently had the chance to catch up with O’Reilly to find out what he’s been up to lately as well as to hear about his newest project, which is taking up a lot of his valuable time in the United States.
After O’Reilly moved on from doing the world-feed co-commentating for Premier League matches, he traveled the world, did UEFA Champions League broadcasts for a TV network in the Middle East and went to India to do commentary and broadcast work for the Indian Super League.
He’s also been working closely behind the scenes at Selhurst Park, where he makes appearances in The Legend’s Club.
But his latest project is one that brings him to the United States. He’s teamed up with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to create a new podcast entitled Playing With Science. O’Reilly hosts the show alongside standup comedian Chuck Nice. The weekly podcast takes a deep dive into the topics of sports and science. From time to time, deGrasse Tyson appears on the show to conduct an interview with a celebrity (including Lance Armstrong and Hope Solo), but it’s primarily the work of O’Reilly and Nice where they explore a wide range of fascinating topics each week.
Some examples of recent episodes include a physicist going into a very detailed discussion of how Odell Beckham Jr. made that one-handed catch (they even interviewed the person who made the glove, to better understand the technology used to help athletes). Plus, they discuss the science behind three-point shots in basketball, why ice hockey has more science in the game than any other sport, and the physics behind baseball.
For soccer fans specifically, the episode with Hope Solo behind the science of a penalty kick is fascinating. No matter whether you’re new to the sport or you’re a veteran fan, you’ll learn something. One sub-topic in particular that was eyeopening was the effect of the player hitting the part of the ball with the valve and what the science is behind it.
In Playing With Science, the podcast looks at a variety of topics relating to sports and science to better understand (and to explain to the listener) how it all works. That includes nutrition, conditioning, doping and virtual reality — just to name a few.
While O’Reilly was recently in the United States to record a new episode of Playing With Science, I wanted to hear his thoughts on the role of science in soccer. “Within soccer, there is still room for expansion [to bring science into the sport],” said O’Reilly. “The great thing about US sport is that it embraces new ideas and new science. On some things, European football is behind [the US] and on other things they’re ahead. For example, wearable technology has been in the NFL only in the last couple of years. The Premier League clubs have been using that for years.”
Playing With Science is a unique journey into discovering the how and why behind our favorite sports including soccer.
“I feel like I’m in the front row of class when I’m doing the show,” said O’Reilly.” Because every day is like a school day for me.”
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