“HORSE” Makes a Play in Sports Podcasting: An Interview on Basketball, Masculinity, and a Terrible Band

I do not think it comes as much of a surprise to hear that I do not know much about sports. While Friday Night Lights does own a sizeable chunk of my heart, I’ve never really given much thought or care to most sports media.

Multitude’s upcoming HORSE changes that completely.

The NBA is now a 365-day league and it’s never been more present in pop culture. From Kevin Durant’s burner accounts to LeBron taking his talents anywhere to trusting the Process, the NBA is becoming a pop culture requirement. At the same time, sports can have gatekeepers that make it insular and frustrating for people who aren’t die hard fans. We’re here to prove that basketball is entertaining to follow for all fans, whether you’re actively watching the games or not. On HORSE, we’re not here to analyze wins and losses. We’re here to talk beefs, Internet drama, and have fun.

Where HORSE excels is where so many other Multitude podcasts excel: it’s a podcast by two emphatic fans talking about something they genuinely love without isolating any audience. It’s a podcast about culture and fame as much as it is the sport, blending together jokes with actual analysis effortlessly. While listening, I found myself not only laughing out loud but also wanting to seek out watching a game–something I’ve never done, ever.

One of HORSE‘s greatest assets is its hosts, Eric Silver of Join the Party, an actual play Dungeons and Dragons podcast, and Mike Schubert of Potterless, a podcast in which Schubert reads the Harry Potter series for the first time in his mid-twenties. The two are endlessly charismatic and deft in their timing, playing off of each other in a quick and hilarious rapport. HORSE feels like a podcast that could only have been made by this pair; I can’t imagine two hosts who would be as knowledgeable on the topic while still being as funny, as astute, and as accessible for listeners who might not know much about basketball before listening.

After receiving the first episode for review, I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to speak to these two about HORSE, sports podcasting, and culture.

Williams: So, first, could you explain the concept behind HORSE for readers?

Silver: First of all, HORSE is a basketball show about everything that’s not basketball.

Schubert: HORSE is a podcast that proves basketball is entertaining to follow, even if you don’t watch the games themselves. The drama surrounding the league is beyond that of Game of Thrones–

Silver, acting as Schubert’s hype man: Dragons and shit!

Schubert: –the memes are spicier than a one-chip challenge–

Silver: Have dairy on hand!

Schubert: –and the absurd stories are more outlandish than whatever your crazy Uncle starts spewing at Thanksgiving dinner.

Silver: Now that I’m older I appreciate relationships with even my extended family! Entertainment is now more than just the product. This is for anything: prestige TV, reality shows, even cooking shows. It’s its own ecosystem, with self-awareness and social media and intercast beefs. And no one does that better than the NBA.

Schubert: The Adventure Zone showed me that D&D wasn’t too nerdy for me to comprehend, so HORSE is like the inverse of that. Sports don’t have to be watched exclusively by bros chugging Bud Light. They’re for everyone.

Silver: And honestly, a lot of the most enthusiastic people aren’t bros–or, at least, the problematic, rigid, toxic masculine bros.

  HORSE   The NBA is now a 365-day league and it's never been more present in pop culture. From Kevin Durant's burner accounts to LeBron taking his talents anywhere to trusting the Process, the NBA is becoming a pop culture requirement. At the same time, sports can have gatekeepers that make it insular and frustrating for people who aren't die hard fans.  Eric Silver and Mike Schubert are here to prove that basketball is entertaining to follow for all fans, whether you’re actively watching the games or not. On HORSE, we’re not here to analyze wins and losses. We’re here to talk beefs, Internet drama, and have fun.   @Horse_Hoops  |  Patreon

Williams: So, the first episode (and perhaps future episodes?) start with “Sup nerds, it’s basketball!” and while that’s a joke, the podcast does lean into that feeling of nerdlike enthusiasm. The two of you have been most prominent on podcasts about facets of nerd culture between Join the Party and Potterless. How do you think these two worlds intersect?

Schubert: First off, I only use nerd as a compliment. I call all of my friends nerds and I identify as a big ol’ nerd, so I mean it with love. I’m a believer in the John Green definition of nerd: a nerd is someone who is just really passionate about something. Nerd culture actually has a significant place in basketball because you can nerd out about analytics and strategy of the game, or you can nerd out about the financials of the league and all the contract maneuvering teams do in order to stay under the salary cap. But the other aspect of nerd culture that finds its way into the NBA is standing by your favorite characters, and in the NBA’s case, players or teams.

By hosting a Harry Potter podcast, I see how passionate people are about their houses and favorite characters, and a parallel can be drawn to NBA teams and players. I will root for Lance Stephenson no matter what team he is on.

Silver: Michael Schubert: Noted Lakers fan.

Schubert: How dare you. I like Lance, not the Lakers. And just like how people defend Slytherin, even though almost every Slytherin in the books is garbage and racist, I will support my New York Knicks no matter what and try to justify whatever decision they make, regardless of how many times they hurt me.

Silver: Which is all the time. Also, Wil, did you know the owner of the Knicks is in a country blues and roots rock band, which only exists because he made it so?

Schubert: And he makes himself the opening act for famous people at Madison Square Garden, which he owns.

Silver: JD & The Straight Shot!

Williams: I did not! How terrible is it?

Schubert: Oh, it’s so bad. Imagine the worst band, and then double it.

Silver: This is from the Wikipedia page:

The New York Times has described the band as a group of “well known sidemen backing a karaoke grade singer,” and noted that Dolan’s “musical talents are unlikely to endanger his day job.” The group’s fifth album Ballyhoo! sold only 113 copies in the first four months after its January 2016 release.

The New York Times has described the band as a group of “well known sidemen backing a karaoke grade singer,” and noted that Dolan’s “musical talents are unlikely to endanger his day job.” The group’s fifth album Ballyhoo! sold only 113 copies in the first four months after its January 2016 release.

Schubert: Basketball has so many things to nerd out about, no matter what kind of nerd you are–and thus, the podcast will always open with “Sup, nerds? It’s basketball!”

Image result for jd and the straight shot

Image from the band’s website. Gotta love that song title.

Williams: So, I was going to ask you think basketball is such a fascinating topic, but I think we’ve kind of hit on that here: the behind-the-scenes of basketball is bonkers. Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s unique to basketball?

Silver: You remember that there are real people on the court, with the least level of artifice separating the performance and the people.

Schubert: The big advantages basketball has is that the teams are small and they don’t wear hats or helmets.

Silver: Especially compared to the other three major American sports. Hockey: helmets and pads, regional; baseball: helmets, hats, and a lot of players on the court and in the dugout; and then football: totally covered everywhere, a thousand players.

Schubert: It’s easier to be familiar with every star in the NBA since the teams are small. It’s easier to feel connected to them as humans when you see them react to something happening in the game.

Silver: Basketball also requires the least amount of equipment to play; all you need is a ball and a court to play correctly, so everyone can see themselves in the sport.

Schubert: All of this connection to the stars of the NBA is what drives the behind-the-scenes craziness. Players always have to be conscious of their “brand,” which can sometimes cause them to join an inferior team, like the Lakers, just because they are in LA and LeBron wants to continue to build his empire which will last past his career (much like Jordan)–or it’s why Kevin Durant leaves Oklahoma to play in The Bay Area. Ownerships are usually very concerned with their brand as well. They want to appear in a positive way to the fans, so that affects a lot of the decisions they make.

Silver: The NBA is a microcosm of 21st century fame. You want to fight to get to the top of the mountain, and you try to stay there and stand out–but as long as you’re on the court, you have that shot. I feel like NBA players have the most chance to blow up for a short amount of time as compared to other sports.

Williams: Do either of you listen to other sports podcasts? If so, what do you think the current culture of sports podcasts is like? How do you think HORSE fits into that microcosm?

Schubert: I do! For about three years, I only subscribed to NBA podcasts.

Silver: A few. I actually asked Schubes for recs a little while ago because I just started listening. The Ringer has a whole mess of sports podcasts. Zach Lowe is an ESPN NBA reporter who has a great one.

Schubert: The best one. Zach Lowe’s podcast is the pinnacle. It’s the pantheon.

Schubert: The current culture of sports podcasts is interesting. There’s a few types of shows that exist: ones where a smart host with good NBA connections (Lowe, Wojnarowski) interviews either players or other media members, and ones hosted by players themselves (Redick, Frye/Jefferson). The player ones give a peek behind the curtain, which is great. JJ Redick’s is fantastic.

Silver: I feel like your next category is gonna be Blog Boy podcasts, by sports media who just say stuff to say it, embodied by the guys at The Ringer.

Schubert: These are hosted by people that are very opinionated, but don’t really have justification for it.

Silver: And then they’re all the same. They live in NYC or LA. They’re usually straight white men. They work in Media; their full time job is to write about sports.

Schubert: So that’s what sports pods are currently like–but much like the great poet 2CHAINZ, we’re different. We’re our own thing.

Silver: You know what’s funny? We’re a lot closer to Grantland than The Ringer shows are. Grantland was Bill Simmons’ old site, and it really combined popular culture with sports. And I loved that. Like, check this article [ranking NBA logos] out. This is what we care about.

Schubert: It was the best, and then ESPN killed it. We’ve stated our goal above, but we’re the only NBA podcast I can think of that refuses to talk about wins and losses or stats or standings. Sources Say on Grantland/Ringer is close, but not what we’re going for; they cover specifically things like players Instagram accounts and stuff. We’re going to go much more in depth and have a lot more about crazy stuff that happened in the past. Every episode has a segment called “That Actually Happened” where we just tell absurd, yet true, NBA stories–so we’ll cover the current craziness and the past craziness.

Williams: You actually go so far about not talking numbers that you’ve sort of game-ified your podcast about a game: you’ve declared, at least in the first episode, that if one of you brings up the numbers you have to answer math questions.

Silver: Our rules are very important to me; that’s fifty percent joke, fifty percent drawing the line in the sand. We need to remember: we have to treat players like humans, we can’t get too numbers heavy, and we need to be accessible.

Schubert: Which is why we also have a rule where if we say a hot take about someone under 22 years old, we have to share an embarrassing college story–because we can’t expect these youngins to carry the weight they are asked to. It’s ridiculous.

Silver: We’re just big nerds who want to make jokes. My goal of every podcast is just to make Schubes laugh. That’s it.

Schubert: Same, except… you.

Williams: What would you say to a possible listener who says, “Well, I just don’t care about sports” or “I just don’t know anything about basketball”?

Silver: I think that’s okay. This is similar to what I do on Join the Party; it’s about bringing someone in. But, like we said before, basketball and sports have the opposite problems that nerdy stuff does. What happened in your life that turned you off? Probably toxic masculinity.

Schubert: To that person, I would say, “Open your mind and give it a chance.” We’re actively trying to break down the stereotype that only bro-type dudes can follow the NBA. And if they said they knew nothing about basketball . . . um, that’s why you listen to HORSE. We’re teaching you only the good things.

Silver: Or at least looking at the bad things critically.

Schubert: People don’t avoid listening to Stuff You Should Know because they think, “Oh man, I don’t know stuff.” We’re here to teach you the joys of the NBA and let you see why Kurtis Blow is so infatuated with the way people dribble up and down the court. An important thing to note is that we aren’t just for people who are new to the NBA. For die hard fans, we want to be a breath of fresh air away from hot takes and/or analytic based pods. We’re here to be silly and share some history in addition to covering what’s happening right now. We’ll do the deepest of dives on current and past events so we can even teach a die hard fan that thinks they know a full story some new details they didn’t know before.

Williams: Something I ask all the podcasters I interview: what are you listening to right now?

Schubert: Join the Party, Spirits, The Lowe Post, Punch up the Jam, The Adventure Zone, and My Brother, My Brother and Me.

Silver: Potterless, Not Another D&D Podcast, Wonderful!, The Polygon Show, Friendshipping, and The Ringer NBA Show.

HORSE premiers on July 23rd, 2018, but you can subscribe now on any major podcatcher or check out their website. For an early listen, you can support the show on Patreon and get access to its first episode. You can follow HORSE, Eric Silver, and Mike Schubert on Twitter.

  1. […] I, like blogger Emma Smith-Hunter, have found myself being looked at funny from laughing at some of Schubes’ rants. In fact, Potterless has gotten me to listen to the podcast “Horse,” which is also run by Schubes. To get a sense of what Horse is about, click here. […]



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