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New wave of reality TV showcases athletes off the playing field

The idea of a “sports reality show” seems redundant – after all, aren’t sports the original reality TV?  However, it’s clear that being in the spotlight on game day isn’t enough for many athletes. Going well beyond the anticipated antics of “T.Ocho,” jocks are hitting the airwaves with concepts ranging from finding their next girlfriend to uncovering new ways to fling themselves into the air.

Having just spent the weekend at the espnW retreat in Torrey Pines, I’ve been thinking a lot about content strategy and what a new generation of sports programming might look like. Especially  programming injected with a bit of estrogen. Trend Central showcases some upcoming sports reality shows. How might  these translate headlined by female athletes?


Being Terry Kennedy : Born-to-ride pro skateboarder is (finally) getting his own reality show. If you’ve ever seen the old Baker Skateboards footage of TK, you know that his personality and practical jokes have always been on par with his effortless, yet aggressive, skating style. Kennedy is known not only for his lack of fear on a board, but also for his entrepreneurial spirit, so it makes sense that the show, on BET, debuts alongside his clothing line and the opening of the Watts skate park that he helped make happen. Unlike most sports reality shows, with Being Terry Kennedy, there’s neither a game show feel nor a search for “true love.” Instead, TK lets his charismatic personality, hard skating, and in-your-face energy carry the show.

Jump City: Parkour, also known as “free running,” conjures a wide spectrum of associations among those familiar with the sport. From the exhilarating opening scene of Casino Royale to Michael and Dwight’s antics on The Office, what started as a subcultural trend at the turn of the 21st century in the suburbs of Paris has since been appropriated as a dramatic device. In the latest incarnation of Parkour going Hollywood, Parkour pros from around the world congregated in Seattle to shoot the first ever official Parkour reality show, for G4. From what we’ve seen of the sport, it sometimes feels like a bunch of dudes with too much martial arts training who never outgrew playing Spider-Man.  Regardless, it might be fun to watch wannabe Ninjas backflip down a flight of stairs

Big Mouth: Versus is the go-to cable channel for sports with healthy undertones of violence. From MMAto buck hunting, the network is giving stereotypical Americans their fill of cauliflower ears and blood, not to mention NASCAR crashes. But in an attempt to connect with the athlete in everyone, they’re taking a cue from Man v. Food by turning to the greatest common denominator: FOOD! That’s right, Versus has a pilot, called Big Mouth, slated to showcase what foods, and how much of them, athletes eat. (Did you know Michael Phelps consumes 12,000 calories a day?!) Big Mouth will explore not only why athletes need so much food, but also how they burn it all off. It kind of sounds like True Life: I Want the Perfect Body minus the eating disorders and with way more protein.

Hopefully, reality TV fans want female role models more inspiring than Snookie or Real Housewives. What kinds of reality programming featuring female athletes would you like to see? Who do you think has the charisma and personality to carry a show? What would you watch?


  1. allybot says:

    I want to see the Pretty Tough books made into a TV show or movie!!

  2. sammy_t says:

    how about a doc feature about making a high school team…following try-outs, picking captains and then maybe follow the whole season to see how they do. Kind of like a female version of Two A Days.

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