The Best Sports Themed Shows Of All-Time

I’ve read many articles about the greatest sports movies of all-time but I’ve never scene a list of the greatest sports shows, so here’s my list. First of all the rules…no news type shows (Real Sports, Outside the Lines.) No reality shows (Pro’s vs. Joes, American Gladiator.) And finally the show has to have a scripted and predominate sports theme…so just because Ray Ramano was a sports writer, that doesn’t make Everybody Love Raymond a sports show. What or is your favorite? Which shows did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

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Arli$$ is tied for longest running series of any of the top 10 shows, airing for 7 seasons and 80 episodes on HBO. Arli$$ featured many notable athletes in guest starring roles, normally several different athletes in each episode. Robert Wuhl played the title character Arli$$ Michaels who was a sports agent and the show revolved around his agency. Arliss was sort of hit or miss, it could be real good and it could occasionally be pretty bad…but it definitely hit more than it missed.

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When I was a kid growing up in the mid 80’s, Saturday mornings weren’t for cartoons, Saturday mornings meant WWF Wrestling and The Baseball Bunch. The Baseball Bunch was a syndicated series that aired for 3 seasons from 1982-85. Johnny Bench was the leader of the bunch with supporting roles from Tom Lasorda and the San Diego Chicken. It was so cheesy but it was so good…bad uniforms, bad hair, awesome mustaches and bad attempts at humor. Some of the best baseball players of the era would stop by to teach the Bunch about baseball including Lou Pinella who tore his rotator cuff while filming the show…he was batting against the San Diego Chicken. Pinella had previous run-ins with the Chicken and was not a fan, the injury ultimately ended Pinella’s playing career.

Sports Night aired for 2 seasons and 45 episodes on ABC from 1998-2000. SportsCenter was at the height of it’s fame and this show aimed to capitalize on that…but the show never found it’s identity. Was it a comedy or was it a drama? The show varied from week to week and was canceled after season 2. The show had offers from cable stations including HBO, where it could have found it’s legs and found a spot higher on this list…but creator Aaron Sorkin wanted to concentrate on another show he was working on, The West Wing. Basically started the televisions careers of Felicity Huffman and the like able Peter Krause.

Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows on television today and easily the best show on this list. Great story lines, great music, hot chicks and gifted actors. The football scenes are filmed to look realistic and you want to strap on your chin strap and play your heart out for Coach Taylor. Season 4 starts its NBC run this Friday and this season may be the best yet (the season has already aired on DirecTV.) You do not want to miss episode 5 and the amazing acting job by Zach Gilford. Did I mention this show featured Minka Kelly in 52 episodes…FNL wins!

The Bronx Is Burning Trailer

The Bronx is Burning aired 8 episodes on ESPN in 2007. I guess it was billed as a mini-series but 8 episodes is a season. The show recreated the 1977 season of the New York Yankees and the turmoil that surrounded the team, specifically the trio of George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson. The Son of Sam was also terrorizing the city that summer and the show used that as a subplot. Great acting by John Turturro (always great)as Billy Martin and Daniel Sunjata/Oliver Platt as Jackson and Steinbrenner.

1st and Ten aired for 7 seasons and 80 episodes on HBO from 1984-91. It was one of HBO’s first original series and featured OJ Simpson in a starring role. The show was a comedy in the “North Dallas Forty” vein. 1st and Ten was a football show on TV when such a thing just didn’t exist and it was on cable so you could get some nudity and bad language in the mix…it deserves some props.

Eastbound and Down : Kenny Powers is a champion

Eastbound and Down has only aired 1 season and 6 episodes to date but…Kenny Powers is the F’in man! Season 2 is set to begin filming this month and will feature KP pitching in the Mexican League…oh yeah, this is going to be good! Produced by Will Ferrell and starring Danny Mcbride, the show definitely has talent. The hardest job in television…McBride’s pitching coach, he does throw like a girl.

The White Shadow was a basketball themed show that aired for 3 seasons from 1978-81 on CBS. The plot was that a white retired NBA player takes over as head basketball coach in a predominately black and hispanic school and all the issues that surround that scenario.

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Playmakers was the first original drama series to come from ESPN and it had loads of potential…until the NFL shut it down. The NFL was none to happy with ESPN for airing all of the NFL’s dirty laundry (steroids, substance/domestic abuse, etc.) NFL players called it accurate, ESPN called it quits after just 11 episodes.

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