Hackett’s ‘pure hatred’ floored host
Sports broadcaster Mark Howard will raise his bat this week with the 100th episode of his podcast The Howie Games.
A central figure of Fox Sports' cricket coverage and an AFL commentator for Fox Footy and Triple M, Howard's pet project has seen him interview athletes across all backgrounds and from all around the world.
From Cathy Freeman to Ben Simmons, from Boris Becker to Anthony Mundine, Howard has covered plenty of ground en route to triple figures.
Here are some of the memories that stand out most for the TV and radio presenter along the way.
What's the answer an athlete has given that shocked you the most?
Aussie swimming champion Grant Hackett talking about sliver medals. I was floored that one of our greatest Olympians of all time (three gold medals, three silver medals, one bronze across three Olympics) viewed coming second in such a brutal light. I guess Grant's pure hatred of what he perceived to be "failure" is one of the main reasons he was so good. Here's how part of our chat went:
Howard: Three Olympic silvers and a bronze, are you proud of those?
Hackett: They're failures.
Howard: Are they?
Hackett: Every silver medal in my cupboard is a failure.
Howard: That's a bit of a downer!
Hackett: I still hear those results, and I'm disgusted by them to be honest, because they should be a lot better.
Howard: Disgusted is a strong adjective.
Hackett: Yeah, but it's suitable to how I feel towards it.
LISTEN TO HACKETT DESCRIBE HIS SILVER MEDAL 'FAILURES' IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE
What's been your most memorable interview on the show and why?
Australian NBA player Luc Longley is hard to go past. It was recorded a few years back, and his descriptions of the Chicago Bulls in their heyday blew me away. Checking into hotel rooms under assumed names (he used Norman Gunstin, Bruce Doull and Staggers Lee), the competitive fire of Jordan.
"It was a sort of bloodlust," was how Longley described Jordan. "He was like a sort of predator stalking up and down outside a cage of goats. You know, let one out, let one out, looking across to the next bench to see which one he could devour."
And the extrovert that was Dennis Rodman, who Longley said was "gregarious in one sense in that he wanted to dress up in chicks' clothes and go to weird places and do weird things, which was fun. He would get on the bus on the way to the game in a feather boa and a pink Tutu and say, 'F***, let's get em boys'."
Luc is such a humble, quiet fella. It's amazing to think he played a really important role in one of the greatest sporting teams of all time. After The Last Dance documentary about Jordan and the Bulls came out, I've lost track of the number of journalists from around the world who have contacted me to get his details. Needless to say. I haven't passed them on.
What's the funniest moment you've experienced during an interview on the show?
Only a couple of weeks back we were recording an episode with Australian football legend and coach Kevin Muscat in Belgium via Zoom. Kevin's a great man and was a fantastic guest, but his total lack of technical expertise was something to behold. Watching Kev, with a big smile on his face, swear his head off at Siri, his computer, his phone and himself, was the funniest moment I've ever had on the show. Kevin is very good at swearing.
Have you ever asked a question that made an athlete uncomfortable or that they refused to answer?
The whole idea of the pod is to make the guest feel as comfortable as possible. If the guest is relaxed and trusts you to do the right thing by them, then the episode will be much more in-depth and interesting. So, I'm always trying to avoid the chat being uncomfortable.
Who are the three most intriguing athletes you've interviewed and why?
Tennis star Jelena Dokic: The fact she was able to step out on court, with the constant, frightening abuse her father was subjecting her to, showed the incredible strength that lies within her. She is a truly remarkable lady.
Australian NBA player Patty Mills: Patty is a wonderful athlete, role model and humanitarian. His journey from Australia to becoming an NBA champion is one of determination, effort and belief that makes me smile. But I'm really intrigued about what path Patty takes when he retires. He is an incredible leader who has the ability to cross cultures, change attitudes and make Australia a better, more accepting country. I don't know what Patty has planned, but he will do some amazing things for this country.
Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton: I only had a short time with Lewis, but he is a truly unique individual. A six-time F1 world champion, Lewis marches to the beat of his own drum. He is a fashionista, a musician, and a global celebrity. While many would view these activities as being detrimental to his job of being the fastest driver on the planet, he uses them to make himself even better in the car. You could chat to Lewis for 10 hours and only be scratching the surface.
Has there ever been a funny exchange with a guest before/after recording you wish had been included in their episode?
German tennis legend Boris Becker was at Wimbledon with Fox sports and I was at Fox Footy in Melbourne recording the episode. Everything was fine technically, until the moment Boris sat down. The line was dropping out, we couldn't hear each other, and I could see Boris getting a little frustrated on Skype. I was packing myself at this stage! It's Boris Becker and I'm wasting his valuable time. I had to ask him to count to 10 at least 10 times. He eventually started counting in German. Credit to Boris though, he stuck with it. I only was able to record the last part of his counting. If I'd captured the whole exchange it would have been shockingly awkward for me, but would have made brilliant podcast content!
Who would you most like to interview who hasn't been on the show yet?
Kelly Slater! I've often said that the day Kelly comes on, is the day that the show finishes Through a mutual friend, Trevor Hendy, I've been in touch with Kelly various times over the years. We have been close to sitting down for a chat, but Kelly going surfing has typically caused it to fall over! My first ever sports story on TV, with Channel 7 on a show called Sportsworld, was with Kelly. He was such a great chat, that the boss let me do a story the next week, and on it went. The great man would never remember this but I'd love to thank Kelly for setting me on the sports broadcasting path in the early 2000s. I haven't messaged him for quite some time as I don't want to come across as a stalker! Kelly, if you're reading this, it's an open invitation!
Who is the guest you would most love to invite back on for another chat?
Jarrod Lyle. Jarrod battled Leukaemia numerous times and tragically passed away in August 2018. He was a star on the golf course, but shone even brighter off it. He fought and fought and fought cancer, never giving in. Jarrod was a big, smiling, positive, warm beautiful man who gave life everything he had. He is survived by his wife and two daughters. If only the big man could come on the show again.
Listen to the 100th episode of The Howie Games from Thursday June 25, at
www.Podcastone.com.au or wherever you get your podcasts
Originally published as Hackett's 'pure hatred' floored host