15 Best Sports Episodes in Television History6
15 Best Sports Episodes in Television History
Think of your favorite Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA Finals moments. Now, take out the raw athleticism, edge-of-your-seat drama, and add Stanley from “The Office.” Now we’re cooking with fire.
Sports have often provided TV writers with quality material for both comedy and drama. Shows like “The Simpsons” and “Always Sunny” have mastered the fish-out-of-water scenario in which their ragtag, quirky characters are faced with athletic adversity. Others, like “Full House” and “The Brady Bunch” somehow managed to create classic sports moments despite their show’s inherent, overwhelming cheesiness. Along these lines, our own original series, “Son of a Pitch,” in an episode entitled “Touchdown University,” pokes fun at the ridiculous lengths producers sometimes go in order to incorporate sports into their shows. While not every sports episode in TV history is a winner, most stand out for their divergence from the show’s typical plot lines. And so, in honor of breaking away from the norm (a value we hold near and dear at KoldCast), below is a compilation of the best sports-related episodes in TV history. Lace up, and check them out.
1. “Seinfeld” – The Boyfriend Parts 1 & 2
Airdate: February 19, 1992
This episode features New York Mets great Keith Hernandez as Elaine’s (and Jerry’s) new boyfriend. Kramer and Newman accuse Keith of spitting on them years ago at a game. What ensues is one of TV’s most entertaining scenes of all time, in which the “magic loogie theory” is introduced. Using 8MM film stock, we are treated to a reenactment of the “magic bullet” scene in Oliver Stone’s JFK. As fate would have it, Newman actor Wayne Knight played a part in both the JFK and “Seinfeld” reenactments.
2. “The Simpsons” – Homer at the Bat
Airdate: February 20, 1992
This episode of TV’s longest running sitcom features cameos by not one, but nine MLB players, including Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, and Ken Griffey Jr. The players recorded their voices over a six-month period, portraying themselves as teammates on Mr. Burns’s company softball team. Unfortunately for Mr. Burns, in the ninth inning of the episode’s climactic game, with the bases loaded, it all comes down to one player… Homer J. Simpson.
3. “Friends” – The One with The Football – Season 3, Episode 9
Airdate: November 21, 1996
It all started with some friendly Thanksgiving football, but it quickly devolved into sibling rivalry. In this episode, siblings Monica and Ross lead their friends into a contentious game of 3-on-3, boy vs. girl touch football. With memories of Monica breaking Ross’ nose many years prior during their family’s annual “Geller Bowl,” the stakes are comically high (to say the least).
4. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – The World Series Defense
Airdate: October 22, 2009
This brilliant episode follows the gang as they try to argue their way out of $1,300 worth of parking citations they received while attempting to sneak into Game 5 of the World Series. In a fun filled day at court, we learn how far Charlie and Dennis were willing to go for some tix. At one point, they stood in the stadium parking lot, pushing each other in front of cars in hopes to extort tickets from drivers. Sure, Philly is known for its fanatical sports fans (the Philly’s mascot is called the “Philly Phanatic”), but this episode raises the bar.
5. “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” – Courting Disaster
Airdate: November 12, 1990
After visiting a Bel Air Academy basketball practice to watch Carlton play, Will quips that these preppy guys “don’t just need help, they need a telethon.” However, Will soon joins the team and takes it by storm, which churns up more than a fair amount of envy in Carlton. Thus begins a heated (and highly entertaining) competition between the cousins.
6. “The Office” – Basketball
Airdate: April 19, 2005
When the office workers agree to play the warehouse staff in a basketball game, Michael is convinced he has a secret weapon: Stanley. However, the only problem is that his secret weapon is awful. The game begins with a sweaty Dwight offering to play shirts vs. skins and ends with Michael calling a “flagrant personal intentional foul.”
7. Saved By The Bell – Hold Me Tight
Airdate: November 23, 1991
What happens when a female wrestler tries to join the wrestling team at Bay Side High? Utter chaos, that’s what. At first, Zack tries to get her kicked off the team, but then, low and behold, he ends up falling for her. Come on, Preppy. Keep your head on straight.
Curious about what Mr. Belding is doing nowadays? Then check out this awesome music video from No More Kings.
8. “Full House” – Nice Guys Finish First
Airdate: November 24, 1992
In this episode, Uncle Joey plays in the Bay City Charity Foundation’s ice hockey game for celebrity all stars. Unfortunately for our favorite uncle, the opposing goalie’s apt nickname is “Stonewall.” He also happens to be Joey’s old nemesis from his days of college hockey. We won’t spoil the end, but we will reveal it goes to a shootout. Oh the tension!
9. LOST – “Solitary”
Airdate: November 17, 2004
It took only nine episodes of the series for the characters to reach the societal need for sport. And that’s after witnessing smoke monsters, inexplicable whispers in the jungle, and tons of equally stressful/bizarre occurrences. Thankfully, the ever popular and mellow Hugo took it upon himself to build a golf course.
10. The Wonder Years – Loosiers
Airdate: February 28, 1989
In an episode that will never see the light of DVD (all that great music they licensed comes at too high of a price), “The Wonder Years” is able to capture the butterflies-in-the-stomach nostalgia that is Phys Ed class. When you’re lined up in front of team captains, no one wants to be picked last. It’s even worse when your best friend is one of the captains and you still can’t catch a break.
11. “Chappelle’s Show” – Charley Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories: “Prince”
Airdate: February 18, 2004
This sketch from the short but sweet “Chappelle’s Show” is one of the very best. That’s quite a distinction considering that in the early 2000’s Dave was turning out hilarious sketches like they were Mickey D’s hamburgers. Here, Charley Murphy (brother of Pluto Nash) relays how he and his crew were invited back to Prince’s house for a game of basketball in the 80s. Why say more? Let’s just get to the video.
12. Roseanne – The Bowling Show
Airdate: January 21, 1992
With the exception of its last season, “Roseanne” is up there with some of the great family sitcoms of all time. This episode sneaks onto our list because it features John Goodman in a bowling alley, which is never a bad thing. Our only wish is that he sported a goatee like the one in The Big Lebowski.
13. Brady Bunch – The Subject Was Noses
Airdate: February 9, 1973
While it’s possibly a stretch to call this episode “sports-related,” it is simply too iconic to leave it off the list. I mean, pretty much everyone who has seen this episode remembers it. Sure, that might have something to do with the universal fear of getting your nose broken. But it also has something to do with the episode’s wonderful corniness. Poor Marsha. Doug will never take her on a date now that her face is mangled. Football ain’t for everyone.
14. Curb Your Enthusiasm – Shaq
Airdate: November 11, 2001
If you know Larry, you know he’s prone to sticking his foot in his mouth. But in this episode, Shaq only wishes that were the case. When Larry and Richard Lewis get courtside tickets to a Lakers game, Larry single handedly brings down The Diesel… literally. Some people need to learn to cross their legs.
15. Malcolm in the Middle – Bowling
Airdate: April 1, 2001
This episode garnered two Emmy’s and was listed as number 90 on TV Guide’s list of 100 best episodes ever. It’s told in a Sliding Doors style narrative, in which the boys’ two possible trips to the bowling alley – one with Hal and the other with Lois – are shown as parallel stories. In each story, both parents manage to embarrass the children in their own way. The episode ends with both Hal and Lois uttering the phrase, “Next time, you take them.” Of course, Malcolm is no stranger to sports-related mischief, some of which is on display in the below highlight reel. (A quality clip of the episode referenced above is not available online.)