Freakonomics Radio presents a special series, “The Hidden Side of Sports,” that explores how sports became an entertainment juggernaut, how the economics actually work, and how the best athletes in the world do their job. Among the interview subjects: N.B.A. sharpshooter J.J. Redick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (and many of his teammates, coaches, and executives), sportscaster Dan Patrick, U.F.C. fighter Lauren Murphy, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, former M.L.B. slugger Mark Teixeira, N.F.L.P.A. executive director DeMaurice Smith, former cyclist Lance Armstrong, former N.F.L. defensive back Domonique Foxworth, and the Olympic champions Simone Manuel (swimming), Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Kerri Walsh Jennings (beach volleyball), and Mikaela Shiffrin (alpine skiing). Many of the full interviews can be heard on Stitcher Premium — use the promo code “FREAKONOMICS” for one month free.

How Sports Became Us (Ep. 349)

Dollar-wise, the sports industry is surprisingly small, about the same size as the cardboard-box industry. So why does it make so much noise? Because it reflects — and often amplifies — just about every political, economic, and social issue of the day. Introducing a new series, “The Hidden Side of Sports.”

How to Stop Being a Loser (Ep. 350)

The San Francisco 49ers, one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, also used to be one of the best. But they’ve been losing lately — a lot — and one of their players launched a controversy by taking a knee during the national anthem. So why is everyone there so optimistic? To find out, we speak with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and star players, including their new $137.5 million quarterback. (Ep. 2 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

Extra: Full Interviews With Jimmy Garoppolo, Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, and Kyle Juszczyk

Stephen Dubner’s conversations with members of the San Francisco 49ers offense, recorded for Freakonomics Radio episode No. 350, part of the “Hidden Side of Sports” series.

Here’s Why You’re Not an Elite Athlete (Ep. 351)

There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious. A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there. And if you can identify the sport most likely to get a kid into a top college — well then, touché!

Extra: Shawn Johnson Full Interview

A conversation with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Hidden Side of Sports.”