12 Must Watch TED Talks About Sports

TED is a 28-year-old conference dedicated to sharing ideas about anything and everything. Ideas Worth Spreading are brought up and discussed each year. Many of these TED Talks are amazing to listen to, and they are all archived on the TED website. TED Talks about sports are some of the most interesting speeches to watch. Here are twelve of the best.

1. It’s not fair having 12 pairs of legs – Aimee Mullins

Aimee Mullins is a phenomenal athlete, model and actress. She also happens to have prosthetic legs. This speech recaps the last decade of her life, where she has put forth an amazing amount of work revolutionizing the idea of prosthetic legs. Her explorations have led to the development of sprinting legs, legs that give her additional height and legs designed for any purpose she can imagine. She questions our assumptions about beauty, life and fairness. Disabilities don’t have to be detriments any more.

2. Are we born to run? – Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall in this speech offers us a unique and well-supported perspective about the anatomy and ability of the human body. He asks us about the innate human ability to run, tells us of the obstacles that come between us and our ability and offers anecdotes about the heart and will of those who can run. This unique talk introduces us to several unique runners and a Mexican tribe capable of outdoing us all. He begs us to ask ourselves the question: are we born to run?

3. Why bother leaving the house? – Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders is an explorer who is known most for his excursions in the arctic regions. He delivers this speech in response to a question asking why, when technology enables us to participate in virtually anything through the Internet, why bother leaving the house. His advice? There are things out there in the world at large that are always changing and never recorded. This is where life lies, and experiencing these things first hand is a unique experience only you can have, and only if you leave the house.

4. The difference between winning and succeeding – John Wooden

Coach John Wooden is one of the most inspirational men ever to speak about sports. This speech shows us all the difference between winning and success. He relates anecdotes about how winning is not always a victory, and how you can succeed even if another wins. To him, success is knowing you have made the best of every situation to the best of your ability. He speaks about the things that made him who he was, and the advice he gives to others to make them understand.

5. A leap from the edge of space – Steve Truglia

Steve Truglia is a professional stuntman. His talk covers the issues of health and safety, particularly where they relate to stunts. Movies, sports and physical demonstrations are getting more violent and more dangerous by the year. Technology races to keep up with the needs of athletes and stuntmen. Steven is preparing to perform a record-breaking jump from the edge of outer space, and he can’t possibly do it without the technology he talks about here. Safety, technology and computers help him set records and land safely from any height whatsoever.

6. Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole – Lewis Pugh

Lewis Pugh is a fantastic swimmer who pushes himself beyond the limits of the possible. This talk is dedicated to his incredible swim at the North Pole. He uses the swim as a political statement, a demonstration of the reality of climate change. He swims in a place where there should be only ice. He talks of the work required to prepare for such an incredible swim, including the harsh cold of the water and the depression of questioning his dreams. His success and the power of his message is utterly unique.

7. Lewis Pugh’s mind-shifting Everest swim – Lewis Pugh

After the previous video swim, where Lewis traverses a kilometer of subfreezing water at the North Pole, his first thought was to never do a cold water swim again. Yet here he is, with another important message about the power of the human body, the strength of the human spirit and the reality of our changing climate. His swim is a feat of physical endurance, but his message is one of political awareness and natural wilderness.

8. Shimon Schocken’s rides of hope – Shimon Schocken

Shimon Schocken is a computer programmer and an avid mountain biker. This talk is intensely personal to him. Shimon bikes regularly with inmates in a juvenile correction facility. He speaks of his experiences with fighting past the frustrations and natural instincts to give up these children faced. He speaks also of the profound success and impact he has had on their lives. It was a learning experience for himself and his wards, and he shares it with us. Biking brings them together.

9. How to air-condition outdoor spaces – Wolfgang Kessling

Wolfgang Kessling confronts one of the recurring problems that every sport faces. Players from around the world compete with each other in a variety of locales and climates, but this causes issues for players and fans alike. Players used to a northern chill may perform differently or face health problems in desert climates. Spectators find themselves baking under harsh sunlight in open-air stadiums. Kessling presents a new technological innovation designed to cool spectators and fans in the open air without breaking the bank. His solution even stores energy for later use.

10. The rise of cricket, the rise of India – Harsha Bhogle

Harsha Bhogle delivers a fascinating history of cricket as it grew from the lazy, long-running games of old English origin to the frenzied, fast-paced game it is today. He tells the tale of India’s development through a lens of the sport. He sheds new light on India by speaking of the billion-dollar teams and businesses that surround them. This speech is illuminating for both the history of cricket and the development of India. His insights into both are fantastic and his statistics blow the mind.

11. Four American characters – Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a performer of impressions. She has a unique ability to absorb the character and essence of a person and imitate them entirely accurately, with astonishing results. This talk follows her travels across America as she encounters — and relays to us — four characters through American history. A famous radioman, a Korean shop owner, a convict and a bull rider are all portrayed with vivid accuracy through the power of one woman’s voice. It is a powerful journey through history and perspective in America.

12. Michael Moschen juggles rhythm and motion – Michael Moschen

Few would argue that juggling is a sport, but Michael Moschen takes the art of flying spheres and turns it into something special. His talk revolves around his innovations and explorations of the relationship between skill, time, space and the activity of juggling. His demonstration becomes a showing of skill, talent and dexterity to rival any performance athlete. This talk showcases some of the history of TED as well. The video quality is lower and the stage is less refined, but the skill is no less breathtaking.

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