Hang Up and Listen

The Psychedelics and Sports Edition

Slate’s sports podcast on Deshaun Watson, Serena Williams, and athletes and psychedelic drugs.


Episode Notes

Vinson Cunningham and Stefan Fatsis are joined by Louisa Thomas of the New Yorker to discuss Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s suspension for “predatory” sexual abuse and his return to the field, as well as Serena Williams’ announcement that she is “evolving away from tennis.” Stefan and Vinson then talk to Julie Kliegman of Sports Illustrated about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ recent disclosure that he took ayahuasca and the future of psychedelic drugs in sports.

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Follow Vinson Cunningham on Twitter and read his work in the New Yorker.

Follow Louisa Thomas on Twitter and read her work in the New Yorker.

• After the NFL appealed for a tougher suspension than six games, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson apologized for the first time for allegations that he sexually abused more than two dozen massage therapists.

In the New Yorker, Thomas wrote that Watson, “far from facing serious consequences, is richer than he has ever been and, as the legal and disciplinary process heads toward a close, more powerful than he was.”

Alex Kirshner wrote in Slate that Watson “simply plunged the league into a kind of chaos it built all on its own.”

In a first-person essay in Vogue, Serena Williams announced that she is “evolving away from tennis”—a.k.a. retiring—to grow her family and run her businesses.

• Thomas wrote in the New Yorker that Williams “has always seemed to know what she wants; it has always been her great gift, and her gift to us, to pursue it without regard for anything else.

• “She’s not just showing up as a farewell tour,” Williams’ coach said of her possible farewell at the U.S. Open, which begins in two weeks.

Follow Julie Kliegman on Twitter and read her story in Sports Illustrated, “Do Psychedelics Have a Future in Sports?

• Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on a podcast and told football writer Peter King that taking ayahuasca improved his life and his football. The NFL said it didn’t violate league rules.

In the Athletic last year, Dan Robson talked to UFC fighter Cain Velasquez, retired NHL players Daniel Carcillo and Ryan Vandenbussche, retired NFL player Kerry Rhodes, and other athletes about their experiences with psychedelic drugs.

On this week’s bonus segment, Vinson and Stefan are joined by Julie Kliegman of Sports Illustrated to continue their conversation about Aaron Rodgers, psychedelics, and athlete mental health.

Podcast production and edit by Kevin Bendis.

You can email us at hangup@slate.com.


About the Show

A weekly sports discussion show from Slate. Hang Up and Listen features Slate personalities Joel Anderson, Stefan Fatsis, and Josh Levin.

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