Great stories and storytelling explore the human side of sports on Only A Game. An award-winning weekly sports magazine for the serious sports fan and the steadfast sports avoider. Produced by WBUR in Boston, Only A Game offers a mix of compelling insight and deeply told narratives. Surprising, personal and utterly enjoyable, Only A Game uses the power of audio to explore the place of sports and competition in our culture. And it's NPR's only sports show. Whether it’s the former major leaguer who’s trying to bring baseball back to Chicago’s inner city, the 1942 Rose Bowl rivals who met again on a WWII battlefield or the surprising history of the sports bra, Only A Game finds great stories other outlets might overlook. Notable voices on the show have included Basketball Hall of Famer, author and humanitarian Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tennis Hall of Famer and activist Billie Jean King, NBA greats Bill Walton and Shaquille O’Neal, tennis superstars Serena Williams and Rod Laver, NFL Hall of Famers Ozzie Newsome and Steve Young, Olympians Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, and comedian and marathoner Eddie Izzard. From Little League to the Big Leagues, from the stadium full of fans to the solitary weekend runner, Only A Game stitches together stories of sports and people with the special craft of NPR.
About the Host
No Regular Hosts
After Bill Littlefield retired, there has not been a regular host for this show.
Bill Littlefield has been the host of Only A Game since the program began in 1993, but he wrote his first commentary for WBUR in 1984 and shortly thereafter his work began airing on NPR’s Morning Edition -- where for a few years he hit second (Tuesday) in a line-up that included Frank Deford on Monday and Red Barber on Friday. A graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bill taught English at Curry College for 39 years and served as writer-in-residence there. Bill’s most recent book is “Take Me Out,” a collection of sports-and-games-related verse. For Library of America, he helped edit “The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz,” and he wrote the introduction for the anthology. Bill’s other books include "Only A Game," a collection of radio commentaries and magazine articles published by University of Nebraska Press in 2007; "Fall Classics" (Crown Press 2003), a collection of the best writing about the World Series which he edited with Richard Johnson; "The Circus in the Woods" (Houghton Mifflin 2002); "Prospect" (Houghton Mifflin 1989, paperback 2000); "Baseball Days" (Houghton Mifflin 1993, paperback Pond Press 2000); "Champions: The Stories of Ten Remarkable Athletes" (Little Brown 1993, paperback 1999) and "Keepers: Radio Stories From 'Only A Game' and Elsewhere" (Peninsula Press 1998). He was the guest editor of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Sports Writing in 1998, and his work has appeared in the anthology. Though his daughters long ago grew too old for him to continue coaching them, Bill still has nightmares about youth league basketball games in which he was allegedly an official.
Karen Given is the producer for Only a Game. Given has worked in radio since she was 16 years old, getting her start at a small commercial music station in Joshua Tree, California. Her favorite part of the job was reading the news updates at the top of every hour. Karen made the transition from technical to editorial by way of Reno, Nevada, where she spent a year as the only feature news reporter for Reno's public radio station, KUNR. With her newly acquired reporting skills, Karen returned to WBUR as a producer and reporter for Only A Game.