They say making lists is the easy way to get around having to actually do work and to an extent there's truth to this. The summer can drag on long and be hard to take. Baseball wears on, there may or may not be strikes in several major sports and unless someone dies or has been arrested for killing X or doing Y there isn't much to talk about. As such I've taken to watching TV and Netflix when not watching baseball. This reminded me of the bevy of shows out there that are sports-centric.
You have great reality shows like HBO's Hard Knocks or their 24/7 series. MTV has dipped into the sports world with shows several times, from their reality program on Texas high school football, Two-A-Days, to their episode of Real Life: I'm an NFL Rookie. This doesn't take into account shows like Pros vs. Joes on Spike or the number of sports stars that have made their way through the Dancing with the Stars stage.
There are plenty of reality shows to choose from when it comes to shows whose central focus is the sports world. Instead the focus should change to the scripted world. Sports are organic and free flowing, making it a thing that's extremely hard to make work for television. Do I need to remind anyone of the rousing success that was MVP, a soap opera about the lives of hockey players and their wives? What's that? You've never heard of it? Bingo.
Over the next week I will be releasing what I find to be the five best sports tv shows of all time. I'll be the first to admit that my TV knowledge is somewhat limited to the past two decades and as such I encourage you to send me some of your own choices at email@example.com or leave them in the comments section. In the mean time, let's get things kicked off right with a nice honorable mention:
The Simpsons (1989-Current)
When a TV show has been around for this long and has been so culturally defining as The Simpsons was when it began it's bound to cover some sports. The Simpsons, however, has taken it to new levels. Perhaps it's best known episode was Homer at the Bat, whose roster contained several future Hall of Famers in a Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball game.
From large involvements of the entire plot, like when Bart and Lisa both took up ice hockey ("Hack the bone! HACK THE BONE!!!"), to subtle and soft sports mentions like when Homer's boss Hank Scorpio rewards Homer's excellence in his brief job duty by letting him fulfill his dream and buying Homer an NFL team, the Denver Broncos, The Simpsons frequently alludes to the sport world.
Even as recently as last season The Simpsons dipped into the sports pool, tackling an episode wherein Homer and Marge take part in a fictional Olympic event, mixed couples curling, as a reason to get them to Vancouver for the games from last winter. It even featured an appearance from Olympic commentator Bob Costas. More on him later.
The Simpsons are so ingrained in pop, and sport, culture that a few years ago the LA Dodgers AAA farm team changed their name from the Cannons to the Isotopes upon relocation to New Mexico. Why? Because in the episode Hungry, Hungry Homer the Springfield Isotopes are rumored to be moving to Albequerque, NM and Homer goes on a hunger strike to prevent them from moving.
As for Bob Costas, it was a Simpsons episode that scooped him years before. An episode about ADD and an adderall look alike drug that seemed to give Bart the realization that Major League Baseball was watching everyone. The innocuous sub plot that was there to perhaps hastily end the episode contained this final line from Mark McGwire, "Do you want to know the terrifying truth? Or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?!" Oh the foreshadowing!
The Simpsons has been a part of the fabric of the every day life for many. Nerds, jocks, hipsters all love and can quote The Simpsons. Who among us who are Simpsons fans, almost religiously, don't sit at a baseball game and yell from the stands, "Darrryyyylllll, Darrrryyyllll..." Who doesn't think about Homer when you think about the best owners in the NFL? While not a sports themed show, they've provided so much to the sport landscape they deserve to be mentioned among the greats.
Tomorrow, the fifth best sports tv show of all time._________________________________________________________