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16 Awesome TV Shows About Sports

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, September 25, 2012

sports tv shows

The other day I had a terrifying thought: did I miss the season premier of The League? But I looked it up and discovered, thankfully, I had not. The kickoff to season 4 is still a few weeks away. However, my moment of panic got me wondering why on earth there aren’t more shows about sports on television? I mean, we all love sports. And we all love TV. (Or at least some of us do.) So they seem like such a natural combination. And yet, right now, there are only 4 sports-themed shows on TV that I know of. What gives?

Anyway, today, in honor of the upcoming season of The League, I thought it would be fun to remember all the great (and, frankly, not so great) sports-themed TV shows over the years. I’ve listed them according to their ratings on, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree. Which one was your favorite?

16. Hangin with Mr. Cooper (1992-97)

This show (starring Mark Curry, Holly Robinson Peete, and, eventually Raven-Symoné) was about an NBA player who moves in to a house with a couple of female roommates and becomes a high school gym teacher after retiring. In other words: it was totally realistic. However, believe it or not, this was not the first show in the history of television about a former NBA player who ends up coaching high school basketball. (Keep reading.) Though it might be the only TV show to ever take place in Oakland.

IMDB Rating: 5.8

15. Listen Up! (2004-05)

This show was Jason Alexander’s followup to his followup to Seinfeld. His first show AC—i.e., After Costanza—was something called Bob Patterson that got cancelled after 5 episodes. Listen Up!, however, lasted an entire season before getting cancelled. In it, Alexander played a sports writer with a TV show called (you guessed it) Listen Up!. As you can clearly see, his co-host on that show was played by Theo Huxtable, aka Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

IMDB Rating: 5.8

14. Footballer's Wives (2002-06)

This British show was centered around a fictional Premier League soccer team called Earl Parks FC—or, more specifically, the players and their WAGs. So basically it was like Downton Abbey, but with soccer. Or so I imagine. All I know it that there are lots of cat fights.

IMDB Rating: 6.4

13. Hang Time (1995-2000)

The creators of this show were geniuses. All they did was take the formula for Saved by the Bell, tweak it so that it’s about a bunch of friends who all play on the same basketball team—even the girl!—and add a couple of former athletes (Reggie Theus and Dick Butkus) to play the coaches. Presto: Saturday morning gold.

IMDB Rating: 6.6

12. 1st & Ten (1984-90)

This show was one of the first successful sitcoms to appear on cable instead of the major broadcast networks. It was about a fictional football team called the California Bulls that just so happened to be owned by a woman. A woman! Can you imagine? Anyway, it starred Delta Burke, O.J. Simpson, Shannon Tweed, John Matuszak, Lawrence Taylor, Marcus Allen, and Detective Stabler from Law & Order: SVU, aka Christopher Meloni.

IMDB Rating: 6.6

11. Necessary Roughness (2011-present)

A show about a tough but attractive Long Island divorcee-slash-therapist who becomes the official shrink for a pro football team? What’s not to like? It stars Callie Thorne (from Rescue Me and The Wire) and a bunch of other people that you won’t care about. The show airs on the USA Network, and the second season just finished up on August 29.

IMDB Rating: 6.7

10. Arliss (1996-2002)

Remember this one? It was on HBO and it had Sandra Oh? It was about a sports agent named Arliss Michaels played by Robert Wuhl, and every episode had guest appearances by sports celebrities—Bob Costas, Tommy Lasorda, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Berman, Roger Clemens, Larry King, Shaq, Ozzie Smith, George Steinbrenner, Kobe Bryant, Emmitt Smith, Dan Marino? Ring a bell? Well, anyway, it was a pretty funny show.

IMDB Rating: 6.8

9. The Game (2006-present)

Yes, this show is still on TV. It started on the CW back in 2006, then got cancelled in 2009. But BET bought it from CW, and they started producing new seasons in 2011. And now, despite the fact that the show’s biggest attraction—the super hot Tia Mowry-Hardrict—is leaving the cast, they’re still about to enter the 6th season. Oh, right, and it’s about chicks who date athletes.

IMDB Rating: 6.8

8. My Boys (2006-10)

This was a decent little show, but it was on TBS, so nobody really watched it and it got cancelled after the 4th season. It was about a female sports writer in Chicago named PJ Franklin (played by Jordana Spiro) and her circle of all-male friends and colleagues. Basically, she was every sports-loving male’s dream girl: attractive and into all the same stuff you are. Oh, and it also starred Jim Gaffigan, who’s pretty funny.

IMDB Rating: 6.8

7. Coach (1989-97)

This was a great show. Or at least, that’s what I thought when I was a kid. As you probably know, it was about a college football coach, Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson), and his bumbling assistants Luther (Jerry Van Dyke) and Dobber (Bill Fagerbakke). It was pretty great, really, until they ran out of plots and decided to have Coach Fox take an NFL coaching gig. Then it got dumb.

IMDB Rating: 6.9

6. White Shadow (1978-81)

Remember when I said Hangin with Mr. Cooper wasn’t the first TV show about a former NBA player who becomes a high school coach? Well, the other one was White Shadow. It ran on CBS and was about a white former basketball player who retires after a serious injury and goes to coach a high school team in a mostly black and hispanic neighborhood in Central Los Angeles…hence the reference to race in the title of the show.

IMDB Rating: 7.6

The cool thing about this show was that the basketball action actually looked good, which they have trouble doing even today. So you have to hand it to the producers and directors. Here’s a clip of a basketball scene so you can see what I mean:

5. Eastbound and Down (2009-present)

If you don’t watch this show, it can only be because you don’t have HBO and you aren’t savvy enough to get it on the internet. The show is about a former Major League Baseball pitcher named Kenny Powers (aka Danny McBride) who goes back to his home town after retiring to work as a substitute middle-school gym teacher…and it’s hilarious. Thanks goodness it was renewed for a fourth season.

IMDB Rating: 8.3

4. Sports Night (1998-2000)

This show about a Sports Center-like cable sports news program (called Sports Night) was critically acclaimed, but it had poor ratings and lasted just two seasons. It’s the second-biggest flop of Aaron Sorkin’s career. (The biggest is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.)

IMDB Rating: 8.4

3. The League (2009-present)

If you’re not watching this show, you’re an idiot. It’s about a bunch of people in a fantasy football league, it’s hilarious, and, because it’s on cable, it’s also pretty raunchy. In fact, I had a tough time finding a clip that was SFW…which is awesome. Season 4 doesn’t kick until October 11, so you’ve got time to get Seasons 1-3 on DVD and catch up.

IMDB Rating: 8.4

2. Playmakers (2003)

Back in 2003, ESPN tried their hand at drama with Playmakers, a show about what goes on behind the scenes on an NFL team. Unfortunately, the show was a little too good, and it made the NFL very uncomfortable. And since ESPN didn’t want to piss off the NFL, they had to pull the plug on the show after just 11 episodes. Luckily, it seems that most of the episodes live on on YouTube. So you should definitely check it out.

IMDB Rating: 8.4

1. Friday Night Lights (2006-11)

I don’t know if Friday Night Lights was the best sports show in the history of television, but right now it’s the highest rated one on IMDB. So that’s gotta count for something. Unfortunately, despite being excellent, the show about a small high school football-obsessed town in Texas never gained a large following, and it lasted just 5 seasons—three of which had to air on DirectTV before making their way to NBC.

IMDB Rating: 8.5