He missed that? Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the difficulty in kicking on SportSciQ

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·2-min read

If you’ve ever wondered about a place holder’s vital role in an attempted field goal or if having no fans in stadium seats impacts the game-winning moments, Neil deGrasse Tyson is here for you.

The renowned astrophysicist answers these intriguing sports questions and more in the latest installment of SportSciQ, a collaboration with Yahoo Sports and StarTalk. The short-form series, which started by building a Frankenstein athlete, answers questions that have long befuddled fans and athletes. And it offers a few new ones to ponder alongside enticing animation to pull it together.

In this episode Tyson, former English footballer Gary O’Reilly and comedian Chuck Nice discuss how the earth’s rotation and lack of fans impacts field goal attempts. (Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals fans might remember the answer to the former.)

They also assess if former New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey had an advantage from his non-pointed shoe. Dempsey, who was born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, made a record 63-yard field goal in 1970 that stood until 2013. He died in April due to complications from COVID-19.

Tyson, 62, is a popular science expert with a knack for breaking down complicated concepts into easily digestible knowledge. He’s arguably one of the country’s best known scientists and has hosted the NOVA ScienceNow program as well as StarTalk Radio podcast. After obtaining degrees from Harvard, Columbia and the University of Texas at Austin he began work at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Tyson has been its director since 1996.

He’s joined by O’Reilly, a former defender for Tottenham Hotspur who turned to sports broadcasting, and Nice, a Philadelphia native who’s been working stand-up for 18 years.

It’s thanks to Nice we can envision Tyson jogging out for an NFL kick, a protractor in one hand and anemometer in another. Tyson will explain.

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