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Media Meltdowns

Perhaps We Have Run Out Of Sports Documentary Subjects

Screenshot: ESPN

Ever since Bill Simmons invented the genre way, way back in 2007, fans have been inundated with sports documentaries on just about every topic. This is partly because there are lots of interesting stories from the world of sports that deserve the documentary treatment, but most of it comes down to the simple fact that all those channels and streaming platforms that are fighting for people’s eyeballs have created a bottomless pit into which more and more content needs to be hurled. This is how you end up with a 10-hour documentary series about the 1998 Chicago Bulls that was at least five hours too long. It’s also how you end up with whatever the hell this is:

I won’t dare attempt to imagine what sorts of conversations were had by what groups of people that led to the creation of an hour-long documentary about a college conference commissioner, but I assume those talks started with someone at the ACC Network saying, “Look, we need something to put on the air when there are weather delays.” Which, fair enough. If you’re going to have a whole damn channel dedicated to one single college sports conference, you’re going to end up reaching pretty far into the ol’ idea bag when it comes time to map out the yearly broadcast schedule.

None of that excuses the amount of effort that seemingly went into producing this thing. Why did we need a high-definition shot of the old fuddy sitting in a locker room, like he’s an athlete preparing for a big game and not a leech who spent his entire career exploiting athletes for personal financial gain? Why is the clip above soundtracked by music that sounds like it belongs in one of the Avengers movies? Why is this guy giving an interview in a big fancy room like he’s some kind of head of state?

If the sports documentary industrial complex has created such a vast bubble that something like this can be produced, with so much self-serious polish, then maybe it is time for that bubble to burst. Why don’t we just bring back blooper shows, instead? Everyone loves a good blooper.