Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"Sports" shows that can tide us over until live sports return.

The last several months, broadcast networks and sports channels filled airtime with "classic" games (often not nearly vintage enough for my tastes), and while some sports are already back--auto racing, MMA, German soccer--there is still a void.  Here is a list of "pseudo sports" the TV networks could be rolling out in reruns.  Make no mistake, as far as we here are concerned, "psuedo" means "awesome." Sports Illustrated once called them "trash sports," but at BOTNS, we love 'em.

1) Battle of the Network Stars: Of course! We may have drawn inspiration from this program when creating our podcast, you know.  The nation was captivated by The Last Dance, so I think the logical next step is a documentary on the Gabe Kaplan/Robert Conrad controversy. In the meantime, they can show the original episodes.

2) Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes Read more here about this series of specials, no doubt imitating our #1 choice.  The events kicked off with Phyllis George against O.J. Simpson in ping pong (!) and Ed Anser vs. Lola Falana in a marathon (!) among many other great events. They say history is written by the victors, and maybe Battle "won," but 2020 viewers will gain from seeing this series.

3) US Against the World : Here's an interesting NBC special that takes the Battle gimmick and pits the USA against the UK and "the rest of the world" in a series of events.  I'm looking at the list of stars, and it's loaded--Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, Roger Daltrey, Kate Jackson...Some stars I didn't expect, like Rod Taylor and Marty Feldman.  And would it surprise you to hear that Ed McMahon was a host?

Check out this Rod Taylor site for great info on this 1977 event, including this cool pic:

4) Celebrity Bowling: Maybe we can't understand the rules, but we here at BOTNS love us some celebrity bowling. This show is perfect for these troubled times--low stakes, low impact, and low cost.  Some might even use the term "low rent," and we that a bad thing?

5) Rock N Roll Sports Classic: ABC followed its own success with this made-for-TV event starring the likes of The Jacksons, Rod Stewart (who was also in US Against the World), and of course the biggest star of all at the time, Leif Garrett. What could be more ROCK AND ROLL than competing in goofy events on network television?

You'd better believe two things: 1) Rod is kicking soccer balls during this event and 2) BOTNS icon Ed McMahon is a host. make that THREE things, actually, because another BOTNS icon, Alex Karras, is the OTHER host!  Here is a closer look at the 1978 event.

6) The Superstars: OK, we had to get to "real" athletes at some point. didn't we? After a two-hour event in 1973, ABC turned the IMG production into a recurring series until the mid 1980s, when NBC picked it up. World-class athletes from team and individual sports competed in a variety of events to determine a champion, and for a while, Renaldo Nehemiah was dominant!

7) ABC Celebrity Comedy Football Classic: I know just enough about this to know I want to see it--I really, really want to see it--but not enough to rank it higher.

8) Celebrity Billiards: This California-based Minnesota Fats series just makes eligibility for our list by virtue of making it to 1971.  VCI Entertainment released a few episodes on DVD years ago, but since then I don;t think anyone has done anything with this. Fats versus a celebrity in billiards + trick shots = the format. That's it.  That's enough for me!

9) Sports Challenge: Granted, this is sports trivia, but you get to see accomplished athletes competing, with classic clips sprinkled throughout.  All this and Dick Enberg in snazzy sportcoats! ESPN Classic showed these years ago, so they are in the vaults.

10) Celebrity Tennis: I have never seen any of this syndicated weekly mid-1970s program, but I am sure at least one Van  Patten is involved. More importantly, the producers of Celebrity Bowling are involved, so we know the show is legit.  Jed Allan even hosted this one, too.  Apparently celebrities formed doubles teams and played each other for prizes for the audience, much like the bowling show.

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