Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halftime Adjustments: Why Don't Sports Sitcoms Work?

A few days ago, I found myself watching an old episode of Coach on TV. At first, I was quite excited about this: I remembered enjoying some episodes when I was younger.

However, as I watched the storyline unfold, I found myself cynically (and successfully) guessing all the major plot twists. I ended up switching the channel halfway through. Another childhood favorite show, destroyed by reality. This is why I won't watch Hang Time today (incidentally, refresh your memory via HangTimeCentral on Youtube).

So what is it about sports that makes it such a bad target for sitcoms? Think about it--the Jason Alexander as Tony Kornheiser failure, Arli$$, My Boys, Playmakers...I'm really having a tough time thinking of a truly successful sitcom that was about sports. Kenny Powers? The people who love Kenny Powers are dedicated, but I don't think your average sports fan knows about the show.

So what chance does the Colin Cowherd-inspired sitcom have? We all know that TV would dearly love to capture the 18-35 sports-loving male demographic without having to shell out hundreds of millions in broadcast fees. So why haven't they figured it out yet? What will it take? Or is it impossible to re-create the live, anything can happen excitement of sports in the highly structured sitcom format?

EDIT: JB reminded me (1) FNL is not a sitcom per se. (2) Sports Night was fairly popular. I suppose I'm saying, why aren't any sports sitcoms hits? It's true, sports sitcoms last a while--but I feel more like that's because of their tremendous upside potential rather than true talent.


  1. Wait, wait - FNL isn't a sitcom, and I wouldn't call five seasons a failure.

    That said, you aren't wrong. Another critical darling was Sports Night, at the peak of the SportsCenter craze.

    My first thought, though, is they tend to be like nba tweeners - not enough sports for the sports fan, too much for the comedy fan. No one is satisfied, and the axe comes down.

  2. man, those were the days! good point JB, by teh way.