April 10, 2016

SCAZZERO | On Sports’ Television Shows

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Given the amount of TV shows there are these days, I’m a little surprised more don’t that take a deeper look into the lives of athletes. Based off of just my experience and what I have witnessed in my 16 years as a gymnast, there are so many things that would make for great entertainment (although there has already been a show about gymnastics, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) But then again, maybe there aren’t that many shows because their target audience would probably be watching an actual sports game instead — I don’t know though, I haven’t crunched the numbers yet. But still, I think there is some great material in the world of sports that would make for some pretty compelling TV. There were a few sports shows in the past few years, even though now they are all now currently off the air. The three that come to my mind are, Friday Night Lights, Blue Mountain State and Make It Or Break It. The first thing about these shows is that they are all wildly different each other. One being a very well done drama based off of a nonfiction book of the same title, one an Animal House type comedy and one that is just bad.

Out of these three, Friday Night Lights was definitely the most accurate to real life. The show was a portrayal of a real high school football team in Texas, with some added drama and emotional storylines for TV. Although I don’t know, that could be what it’s really like, the best teams at my high school were probably water polo and swimming, so different worlds. Friday Night Lights was a critically-acclaimed drama that was extremely popular and lasted for five seasons. It brought the laughs, the tears and it wasn’t cheesy. It was probably the best show about a sports team that ever aired, if you’re going by quality.

Then there’s Blue Mountain State, basically on the other end of the spectrum from Friday Night Lights. It was a raunchy, comedic take of the life of college football players whose lives are a flurry of booze, girls and football. It didn’t really focus on the actual playing of football but more on the parties the team threw, although the few scenes where they showed practices were actually pretty well done. Although it was short-lived, it was a fan favorite and got a second wind of popularity when it was released on Netflix. The show pushes the boundaries of what is “too far” for a joke, in that the answer for that show was “nothing.” It’s hilarious, although I honestly cannot fathom that if those characters existed in real life, they would actually be capable of being fully functional athletes, students or human beings. But the parties do look awesome, and part of me hopes that someone foreign watches that show and thinks it’s an accurate depiction of how college athletics is like in America.

And lastly, there was Make It Or Break It, a show about gymnasts that probably no one has heard about, probably because it aired on the network formerly known as ABC Family right after The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I only watched all three seasons because it depicted, or tried to, the life of fictional elite gymnasts. In a world full of inspirational football and baseball movies (aka sports I would never play), it was nice to see some representation. And although it was terrible, I felt I had to see it through. In a bold move, the show tried to actually show a lot of skills, but basically ended up doing the equivalent of buying a dog and calling it a racehorse. However if you were in the mood to watch something gymnastics related, I would highly recommend the movie Stick It. It’s much more accurate and is just better in general.

Claiming a level of skill and then actually showing that level of skill on a show is what is tricky about doing a show about sports, and probably why there haven’t been that many. But it would be interesting if in the future we see some more shows based on the world of sports, because the amount of cop/superhero/good friends just livin’ life shows are becoming a bit overplayed and it would be nice to see a change up.