The 20 Best & Worst Sports Reality Shows Ever
Love it or hate it, reality television is here to stay. These expendable shows are cheap to produce, require relatively few writers and, unlike regular actors, the people they cast are willing to make idiots of themselves on national television for little more than an open bar and a warm meal.
There have been countless vaguely sports related reality shows that have already come and gone with varying degrees of success.
Here are the 20 Best and Worst Sports Reality Shows…thus far.
Keep in mind that talking about the low standards of reality television, so "good" is a relative term in this instance.
10. Baseball Wives
The Premise: VH1 gathers together five desperate-for-fame women who have, at some point, shared a bed with an MLB player. The "ladies" vary greatly in age, weight, sanity, dignity and levels of self-esteem.
What's to Like: Generally, in shows about "housewives," the "ladies" are always pretending to be something they aren't (like classy or dignified), despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
We're only one episode in, but it seems Baseball Wives (the show and the "ladies") is dropping any pretensions that the show is meant to be anything but bringing together a group of loosely connected women who feed on human misery and providing them with enough liquor to increase the spectacle.
I like the honesty; it's refreshing.
9. Shaq vs.
The Premise: Shaquille O'Neal, who has never lacked confidence, thinks he's great enough of an athlete to take on the world's best athletes...in their own sport.
What's to Like: If you like Shaq, you should've liked Shaq Vs. Trash-talking Shaq is the consummate showman; he's got inexplicable confidence, a great sense of humor and an innate ability to get down in the muck and come out spotless on the other side.
If that's not enough, how about Shaq vs. Sir Charles Barkley facing off in a…competitive eating contest. Hilarious.
8. The Contender
The Premise: A group of boxers are followed as they compete in an elimination-style competition hosted by Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone.
What's to Like: The show was entertaining, even to the most casual boxing fans. The contestants were interesting, and in addition to their relationships with each other, details of their lives outside the competition were featured.
The Premise: Much like Kendra herself, the premise of Kendra is simple: A hot blonde with a penchant for saying the dumbest thing possible in every situation who enjoys taking her clothes off and talking graphically about sex—television gold.
What's to Like: Kendra might not be a genius, but she's genuine and likable and not the least bit pretentious. Sometimes all you need is a little mindless fun and a laugh, and Kendra is perfect for that.
The Premise: MTV followed the lives of high school football players in Birmingham, Alabama, as they tried to juggle school work, football and friendships.
What's to Like: MTV stumbles into something good once or twice per decade, and Two-A-Days, which lasted only two seasons, was definitely good. The characters were compelling, and it's always fascinating to get a look into high school football programs in the south, where the game is a religion.
5. WWE Tough Enough
The Premise: A group of aspiring professional wrestlers live together and participate in an elimination-style competition, the winner of which receives a contract with the WWE.
What's to Like: Tough Enough actually started on MTV in 2001 and jumped around a bit before being revived by USA in 2010.
The show has staying power mostly because of the colorful characters attracted to professional wrestling, and thanks to current host Stone Cold Steve Austin, the show has never been better.
4. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
The Premise: Each of the six seasons has started with hundreds, if not thousands, of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader wannabes gathered outside Texas Stadium and ends with the new squad taking the field at the Cowboys first home game.
What's to Like: Pretty much everything in between. The entire audition process is grueling and, frankly, there's a lot of crying.
The behind-the-scenes look also provides a rare opportunity to learn a little more about the very talented and surprisingly bright women who do a lot more in life than decorate the sidelines on Sunday.
3. Mayweather vs. Ortiz 24/7
The Premise: HBO follows boxers Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz in the weeks leading up to their fight in September, 2011.
What's to Like: Mayweather isn't the most likable guy in professional sports, but he's definitely one of the most entertaining…and volatile.
2. Pens & Caps 24/7
The Premise: HBO chronicles the seasons of the Pittsburgh Penguins and their archival Washington Capitals in the six weeks leading up to the NHL's Annual Winter Classic, held in Pittsburgh on New Years Day, 2011.
What's to Like: What's not to like? The Pens/Caps rivalry is the best in the NHL and Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are the two greatest players in the world. Even the coaches hate each other.
HBO provided an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look into the inner-working of both teams and into the lives of some of the league's biggest stars.
1. Hard Knocks
The Premise: Each season (since 2001) HBO's Hard Knocks chronicles an NFL team from training camp through the end of the preseason, and the episodes are broadcast almost in real time.
What's to Like: Well it's football, which is a great start, and there hasn't been a bad season of the show yet. Although some, like the New York Jets (2010), have been more entertaining than others.
Head coach Rex Ryan and his coaching staff are physically unable to hold back in any situation, and they give their players free reign to speak their minds…makes for great TV.
And now we get to the good stuff...
10. The Michael Vick Project
The Premise: Chronicling Michael Vick after his release from prison, where he served two years for bankrolling a dog fighting ring, as he struggles to re-establish his NFL career and rebuild his image, and his life.
What's Wrong: The show itself wasn't that bad, it was just way too soon to reach an audience that wasn't going to forgive him anyway.
Was/is it Fixable?: Maybe. He should have waited until he re-established himself in the NFL and started the road to redemption. I didn't watch much of the show then, but today I'd be a lot more willing.
9. Shaq's Big Challenge
The Premise: Shaq tackles the obesity epidemic, one fat child at a time.
What's Wrong: Shaq's Big Challenge was a nice idea in theory, but it just wasn't very enjoyable. The kids were lazy and ungrateful and it never really felt like Shaq was qualified to be dealing with them.
Was/is it Fixable?: Nope.
8. Hogan Knows Best
The Premise: Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and his garish, unlikeable family, welcome VH1 cameras into their home to document their horrible fame-whoring lives.
What's Wrong: Hulk Hogan was fairly famous through most of the '80s and '90s, and against all odds, he has managed to maintain a fan base into the twilight of his career…and he repaid his loyal fan base by subjecting them to his painfully stupid family.
Was/is it Fixable?: Not without a time machine to transport it back to 1988.
7. Ochocinco the Ultimate Catch
The Premise: In 2010, (then) Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was looking for love and decided a VH1 reality dating show was the best place to find it.
What's Wrong: Everything was wrong with it, even the fundamental premise of the show was ridiculous.
People don't like being lied to. Maybe I would have tuned in if they had called it Ochocinco: Please look at me or I'll cease to exist!
Was/is it Fixable?: No. Ocho needs to work on his (NFL) game and stay off VH1.
6. Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love
The Premise: A look into the life of former NFL superstar "Neon" Deion Sanders and his life with wife Pilar Biggers.
What's Wrong: Most of us know Prime Time as one of the most electrifying NFL players of all time. Thanks to his ridiculous talent, excessive confidence and larger than life persona, Sanders absolutely owned the '90s
Well that's all changed, today he is actually pretty boring and most people would prefer to reminisce about Sanders' glory days than watch him air his dirty laundry on the Oxygen channel.
Was/is it Fixable?: Sanders is still an engaging personality who could carry a show about something else…his charity work perhaps?
5. Victoria Beckham: Coming to America
The Premise: After her husband David Beckham signs a contracts with the L.A. Galaxy, Victoria prepares the family for a big move to America.
What's Wrong: The Beckhams don't have a massive fan base in the U.S., so their big move across the pond was like the proverbial tree in the forest.
Was/is it Fixable?: No. NBC even bailed on the idea of making it a multi-episode show and decided to just air them as a one-hour special instead.
4. Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design
The Premise: Retired NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson embarks on a career in interior design.
What's Wrong: It appeals to no one. Football fans don't want to watch a stupid design show, and fans of stupid design shows don't want to watch Keyshawn Johnson picking out lamps.
Was/is it Fixable?: Yes, if John Gruden would have been cast to judge all of Johnson's final designs.
3. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search
The Premise: Sports Illustrated is on the hunt for the next big thing in bikini modeling and they are taking you with them!
What's Wrong: It sounds like a can't miss…yet it missed. The judges were awful, the contestants were unknowns, and their photo shoots and fitness tests were uninspired.
Was/is it Fixable?: Absolutely! Replace the judges with equally qualified, but more interesting people. Replace the unknowns with knowns (like Kate Upton) and have them live together in a tropical location and compete for the cover! BOOM.
2. Basketball Wives
The Premise: VH1 brings together (approximately) eight women of varying age, weight and sanity who are desperate for the limelight and at one time shared a bed with an NBA player.
What's Wrong: The cast is straight up mean. They're mean to nearly everyone they encounter, but they save their most sadistic bullying for each other.
Was/is it Fixable: No. I've only seen this show a few times, but I'm pretty sure this hateful production couldn't be fixed by the hand of God himself.
1. Taking on Tyson
The Premise: Retired boxer Mike Tyson is searching for meaning in the world and finds it in pigeons, the first thing he ever loved.
Taking on Tyson takes you inside Tyson's new life as he travels to his various pigeon coops (he's got more than 2,500 birds) as he trains them to…race. Tyson is still a novice pigeon racer, but he's going up against guys who have been in the game for more than 25 years.
What's Wrong: It's just too weird, even for Mike Tyson.
Was/is it Fixable?: No. I just don't think that, as a nation, we're ready to embrace this ancient sport...Tyson says it predates Christ.