Irreverent, sports-related comedy programs don’t exist, at least not on television. While series like FOX’s Best Damn Sports Show Period or ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption can definitely be comical, they make quips about and poke fun at the wide world of sports with a measured amount of deference. The shows operate under the assumption that the subject is significant, that sports – and the people that play, coach, and watch them – are important.
Yes, you could try point to something like the Sklar Brothers’ defunct Cheap Seats as an exception to the above, but nothing shows professional athletics less respect than the Onion Sports Network. That’s why I’m all jazz hands over the recent announcement from Comedy Central. The cable network has tapped popular satirical newspaper The Onion for a 30-minute, scripted comedy series pilot based on its sports section. It’s just the kind of program that television needs to bring some balance to the medium’s for-the-love-of-the-game kinda coverage.
The press release promises the series, “will take on the whole universe of modern sports – teams, players, leagues, sycophantic fans, ridiculous products and over-hyped sports coverage – with an eye towards appealing to sports fanatics and more casual fans, as well as long-time followers of The Onion and The Onion News Network.” And Onion Sports Network director Will Graham warns you to, “Get ready for the most intense sports coverage humanity has yet witnessed.” I’d like to say the show’s going to be awesome, but Casey Stengel once told me “never make predictions, especially about the future,” and Chris reminds me about the profoundly not good The Onion movie.
The as-yet-untitled Onion program is also just one of several recent web series pick-ups by Comedy Central. Atomic Wedgie’s Secret Girlfriend debuted on the comedy network in early October, and both Midwest Teen Sex Show and Tornante’s Back on Topps signed development deals with Comedy Central back in May of this year.