Numbers Never Lie: A Talk Show with a Twist


“Numbers Never Lie” is a debate show on ESPN2 featuring Michael Smith, Hugh Douglas, and Jalen Rose. The tagline “one host, two athletes, three opinions, but the analytics will end the debate” perfectly sums up the plot of the show. The men each voice their opinion on a current sport topic, and then a winner is determined using statistics. The show provides a unique format by settling debates quantifiably. As Smith noted, “We have a number for everything.”

The show has been on for over a year, but it recently revealed a new look. In the center of the set is a desk, from which a paper emerges containing a numerical fact. Smith, the host, will ask a question, and all three men will argue their point. The winner is determined by the numerical fact that emerges. For example, the question was asked “Are the Chicago Bears the best team in the NFC North following their Monday Night Football victory?” After the debate, it was revealed Chicago’s odds to win the division dropped by 1.7 because Green Bay and Minnesota also won. From this fact they concluded the Bears were not the best team.

Smith, Douglas, and Rose are a very charismatic panel and have good chemistry with one another. Smith provides the knowledge of being a veteran sports reporter, while Douglas and Rose are experienced athletes and media personalities. All three are very passionate, which means they sometimes get a little carried away. When they disagree, however, they typically do not get mad or yell like on some similar debate shows. They also keep the mood lighter than those shows by frequently teasing and laughing at one another. Sometimes, however, their joking distracts from the issue they are talking about.

One cool aspect of the show is when they use numbers to headline a story. “9” was the headline in this episode, referring to the San Francisco Giants 9-0 victory to clinch a World Series berth. They also have a segment called “A Number You Can’t Debate,” which is a recent record set in sports. Focusing on the numbers is a fun way to talk about headlines, unique from other similar shows.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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