Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010: The best of Sports on TV

Here are my favourite non-live action television sporting moments from 2010. That doesn't quite work, does it. Suppose I'll try again.

Here are my favourite non-game television sporting moments from 2010. Crap. That sucks too.

Below are my favourite televised moments from 2010 that didn't primarily involve live-game coverage. Still awkward, but it'll have to do.

5. Gatorade Replay Series
Available on Rogers Sportsnet (though you'll have to stumble upon it to find it) this one hour program reunites rival highschool teams who had a memorable game cut short or finish in dispute, and then replay it. The games in question typically occurred in the late '90s so it is fascinating to see all these late 20 and early 30 year-olds trying to get back into shape so they don't embarrass themselves in front of the entire community. The producers develop storylines with a few key players from each team and Gatorade brings in a couple of their big-time endorsers (Dwyane Wade, the Mannings, etc.) to serve as honourary coaches. I've seen hockey, basketball and football episodes and all were definitely worth watching.

4. HBO 24/7 Penguins Capitals
The other day I read where someone said that the Oil Change documentary series following the rebirth of the Edmonton Oilers was just as good as the Pens/Caps HBO series, and that it was done on a sliver of the budget. I could not disagree more, aside from the budget of course. The Pens/Caps series is wildy entertaining and offers a real glimpse of behind the scenes action in the life of an NHLer. Oil Change so far has been 15 guys sitting around a boardroom twiddling their thumbs and staring blankly at each other while Kevin Lowe or Steve Tambellini talk in circles so as not to reveal any meaningful or interesting information.

3. Friday Night Lights
Now in it's fifth and final season, and in my opinion, the best sports television show ever. If you've never watched this series, season one is amazing, push through season two, and then prepare to be inspired in every aspect of your life by listening to and watching Coach Eric Taylor, who strikes a perfect balance between tough and fair. Well, maybe not inspired, but thoroughly entertained. The football is Sportscentre worthy and the drama is 90210 level (the original, not the remake). Just watch it.

2. Ken Burns "The Tenth Inning"
The two-part follow-up to Burns' original and epic "Nine Innings" baseball documentary, which outlines the history of the game from the very beginning, is excellent. The Ninth Inning left off in 1990, just prior to the official launch of the steroid era as well as the lockout (1994) that killed baseball in Montreal. Burns weaves his way in and out of stories and topics managing to cover every issue the game has faced over the last 20 years and recreating each historic moment. A must-watch for any baseball lover.

1. ESPN 30 for 30 Series
These 30 documentaries, one for each year in ESPN's existence, are nothing short of superb. Each directed and creatively owned by a notable filmmaker, the 30 riveting stories began airing on TSN in the fall of 2009 and just recently completed their initial run. They aren't necessarily the 30 biggest sports stories from the last 30 years, but rather a look at many that have either never been told or not fully explained and every single episode has something to offer. The most notable in my mind were King's Ransom, Without Bias, The Two Escobars, Once Brothers and The Best There Never Was.

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