It's A Numbers Game: BT Sport and Santander bring the science behind sport to life

Our brand new show explores role of science and maths in professional sports, featuring contributions from leading athletes from all corners of the sporting world.

Published: 26 March 2021 - 2.08pm

BT Sport's new weekly show, It’s A Numbers Game, explores the unique role that maths and science play in sport.

Starting on Saturday 3 April, the show will air at 11am on Saturday mornings on BT Sport 1 HD , as well as to non-subscribers via the BT Sport app and the BT Sport YouTube page, It’s A Numbers Game explores a range of subjects from aerodynamics to Z-Curves, covering the role of science in sport in an entertaining and educational format.

The show also challenges athletes and famous faces to break a range of world records in sport. Upcoming challenges include an attempt to break the world record for the highest height a football is controlled from. 

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It's A Numbers Game features contributions from former England internationals and BT Sport analysts Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand as well as Team GB Olympic archer Bryony Pitman.

It is presented by Dr Hannah Fry, co-presenter in BBC Radio 4’s The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry podcast which explores scientific conundrums, alongside Pippa Monique, presenter of the BT Sport Takeover films which highlight the broadcaster’s work with local students.

Joining them each week will be BT Sport presenters Ugo Monye and Andrew Mensah who feature as roving reporters exploring various challenges and record attempts. Scientific advice is being provided by Dr Nick Owen, Associate Professor, Sports Science, Swansea University.

The show is a collaboration between BT Sport and Santander. It builds on The Numbers Game, Santander’s numeracy platform, supported by Ferdinand, the UEFA Champions League and educational partner Twinkl to ensure the content reflects the curriculums taught in Britain’s classrooms. Aimed at children and young adults aged five to 14, The Numbers Game is free and can be played via

Complementing It's A Numbers Game, BT Sport will debut All Stars v Rock Stars from Thursday 15 April onwards, where schoolchildren go head-to-head against sports professionals such as Liverpool duo Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold in numeracy and times tables challenges. Upcoming editions will regularly air around It's A Numbers Game with editions also broadcast every Thursdays at 7am and Saturdays at 7.45am on BT Sport.

“These shows are the latest examples of how BT supports its customers to improve their life skills”
- Simon Green, head of BT Sport

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “At BT Sport we have a unique opportunity to use sport, our platform and personalities to inspire and we’re delighted to support Santander’s The Numbers Game work.

“It’s A Numbers Game aims to educate and excite children and parents about the data behind the sports we love, while All Stars V Rock Stars aims to inspire and challenge schoolchildren and their parents to enjoy developing numeracy skills.

"These shows are the latest examples of how BT supports its customers to improve their life skills, such as BT’s Skills for Tomorrow initiative, which aims to help 10 million people make the most of life in the digital world.”

Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander UK, said: “It’s great to work with BT Sport and co-create this fantastic project which will enable us to help even more children and young adults develop their numeracy skills in both a fun and engaging way.

“We’re proud of the work we’ve carried out with Twinkl to make the Numbers Game a real success nationwide and we look forward to supporting many more people in building their confidence with numbers through the transformative power of sport.”

Upcoming It’s A Numbers Game items include:

·         Regular features led by sports data expert Duncan Alexander from Opta, commonly known as Opta Joe. He will explore the so-called Penalty Fallacy, whereby goalkeepers claim to wait until a penalty is taken before deciding which way to dive. He will also take a statistical look at direct free kicks, asking: where, precisely, is the best place to score from on the pitch? And a look at why Cristiano Ronaldo’s and Lionel Messi’s scoring success rates might not be as impressive as many would think.

·         Experiments such as racing a golf ball against a McLaren 765LT supercar to see which is the fastest and testing footballs, rugby balls and bowling balls to destruction.

·         Exploring the science behind curve balls. What, exactly, is the Magnus Effect and how do Ronaldo and Benjamin Pavard score seemingly impossible goals by precisely connecting with the valve on the side of the ball?

·         The physics behind archery. How is it possible that an Arrow can go cleanly through bullet-proof glass but the bullet cannot?

·         How do darts chalkers add and subtract so quickly, is it a learnable skill, or is it innate? What happens if darts referees work with other mathematical problems?