Live sporting events are broadcast all year long. The sports may change with the season, but there is always someone doing something competitive with a ball or a puck, etc.
It’s great if you love sports.
For those of us who would rather do just about anything other than watch, there are other options.
Sure, we could opt out of sports altogether, but some sports adjacent entertainment can be enjoyable for sports fans and sports dreaders alike.
For people who want to root for a team without having to sit through every play we’ve compiled a list of recommendations.
1) All American
All American has only been going for a season and a half, but it’s already a hit, and there is no question as to why. This series is woke. It addresses so many social issues such as privilege and prejudice while doing its best to avoid cliches.
Football is front and center when it comes to plots and plays. The Football scenes are there just the right length for people who like the sport and people who are watching to avoid it.
Still, the sport is addressed on the grander scale of how playing and playing well affects the lives of the teens involved. Main character Spencer James, played by Daniel Ezra, has his whole life changed because he’s good on the field. And that change changes the lives of those around him.
James’s character, and the show in general, is based on the real-life of NFL Linebacker Spencer Paysinger, giving the show a sense of realism that comes across to the audience.
No question, if you’re looking for a good teen football drama, this is a good pick.
What does a rich NFL Football player do after he retires? Why, manage other Football players’ finances, of course. At least that’s what Spencer Strasmore does on HBO’s Ballers.
The show highlights the rich, privileged life someone can have after a successful sports career. Some intense issues come up, but most get resolved easily. The show is meant as a light and fun guilty pleasure.
And who doesn’t get some pleasure seeing Dwayne Johnson smiling at them through the screen?
The writers and actors did something right because the show lasted five seasons, wrapping this past October. It’s an easy binge option for those looking for some light sports fun.
3) Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights is the show that defined the high school football drama in the 21st Century, showing how school sports can be a character in it’s own right.
But Friday Night Lights is about a lot more than football. As a show that takes place in rural, suburban Texas, AKA The Heartland, Friday Night Lights has a lot of heart. It’s small town meets big dreams.
And as someone said to me when I mentioned I had hadn’t got around to watching the show, “with as much as you love a good ‘ship, you really need to get on Friday Night Lights.”
Because this show is full of shippable couples and relationship drama, as well as those sweet moments that remind us why we ship in the first place.
And, oh yeah, there’s football.
4) The Game
The Game is about the women behind the men because as we all know, behind every great man is a great woman.
The Game was a spinoff series, but while it’s parent series Girlfriends only lasted three seasons, The Game was able to last nine. It seems the writers were doing something right.
There were even talks about a reboot for a while. Sadly, that isn’t happening, but nine seasons is still pretty good, especially considering how many times the show almost went off the air.
This is not an intense drama about football. It is a lighter dramedy focusing on what happens behind the scenes and what it is like to be involved with, married to, or the mother of a professional football player.
A show about football that is also about powerful women? What else do you need?
Women behind men are great, but women who don’t stand behind anyone? In this day and age, that’s what it’s all about.
There was an outcry from fans when Pitch, a series about the first female pitcher to make it to the Major Leagues got canceled after only one season.
There were talks with Disney in 2019 about a revival, and it came really close to happening but, alas, it was not to be. That shouldn’t stop you from binging season one though. A lot can happen in ten episodes.
And once you make to the end, you can add your name to the list of fans imploring Disney to revive the show.
6) Sports Night
What’s happening on the field matters, but how do folks at home know about it? Usually by watching ESPN or some other sports news network.
Sports Night takes a look at the lives of those behind and in front of the camera.
It may be more or less a news show, but when the news is sports-focused the show spends a lot of time focusing on sports.
Sadly, this sitcom only lasted two seasons, but isn’t that just the perfect amount to binge?
Another show that focuses someone covering sports, Brockmire is a sitcom about a “retired” sports announcer trying to get back in the game. And by retired we mean he humiliated himself when he had a meltdown a decade ago.
The show has a great comedic cast. Hank Azaria, or as I like to call him, David from Friends, plays Jim Brockmire. The dude is hilarious, so it would take some awful writing for him to bomb.
The show got renewed for a fourth season, so there must be something funny and likable about it. It’s hard to believe that ten years ago Brockmire was just a guest character on the web series Funny or Die, and now he’s got his own show.
If you want to watch complicated plays and angsty drama, probably don’t binge this. But if you want to watch some sports clips and laugh your butt off, I’d give it a try.
This sports agent sitcom was loved by some and truly hated by others. Many thought the show was abysmal, unfunny, and inaccurate in it’s portrayal of sports.
Still, it was popular enough to last for seven seasons on HBO. And it had Sandra Oh from before she was the household name she is today though, so take that with a grain of salt.
The show got hit with a lot of criticism back in the 90s, and I mean A LOT, but it seems that it holds up pretty well today. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for a sports satire like this.
If you liked Ballers, you might like this show. There’s no harm in giving it a shot. It ‘s only a half hour. You can always switch to something else if it’s as horrible as some people say.
9) Lights Out
Not at all a sitcom, Lights Out takes a look at the dangers of being a professional boxer. The main character Patrick (Lights) Leary, played by Holt McCallany, had to leave boxing when he got diagnosed with a neurological disorder caused by too many hits to the head.
The show deals with the dark, gritty realities of sports injuries and what people do when they feel they don’t have a choice.
While the show had a lot of promise, many people discounted it as something we’ve seen a million times and it got canceled after only one season.
It’s not a huge time investment if you want to binge this one and decide whether or not the network made a mistake in pulling the plug.
10) White Shadow
Before All American or even Friday Night Lights, there was White Shadow. This show was incredibly ahead of it’s time and still resonates with people 40 years later, so says Peter Botte of The New York Post.
Ken Reeves, played by Ken Howard, is a professional basketball player turned coach. We’ve heard this story before, but it was pretty new back then.
The show addressed so many social issues that we still deal with today, key among them being racial issues. Reeves was coaching at a predominantly black inner-city school, and the show acknowledged all the issues that the students dealt with.
It was groundbreaking by showing how a series about sports could be about people and issues they face every day. This may be pretty commonplace now, but it was a pretty new concept back in the ’70s
This is what we call and oldie but a goodie.
This series focuses on, surprise, surprise, a coach. He coaches a university team and is a little too football-obsessed, even for a coach.
That’s the joke at least, because this is a sitcom. And it was funny enough to go for nine seasons.
Or maybe that was just because Craig T. Nelson plays coach Hayden Fox. Or, did Craig T. Nelson become Craig T. Nelson because he played Coach?
The only way to find out is to watch it.
This show addresses football a bit, but the main focus of Hellcats is another sport: Cheerleading. Because yes, cheerleading is a sport. These girls are athletes, and the show did a great job of showing just how grueling cheerleading is.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of non-sports related drama. The show addressed financial hardship and class differences, religion, and the legal system.
The cast brings their A-game. To this day, I will say this was the best role Ashley Tisdale ever played, much more likable and relatable than Maddie or Sharpay.
There were also some great ‘ships, the kind you could spend years rooting for or would have if the show hadn’t been tragically canceled after one season.
As someone who watched it at the time, I can say I was personally very disappointed that I will never find out what happens to the engaging and lovable leads of this show.
13) One Tree Hill
You can’t talk about high school sports dramas without talking about One Tree Hill.
Okay, so it might be a bit of a stretch, but everything on One Tree Hill started with Basketball. And yeah, it got crazy, and there was drama, but for at least as long as both Scott brothers were on the show, Basketball was an important character.
The sport changed the lives of Lucas and Nathan, as well as those in their lives. They found hardship, drama, and eventually family and it all started on the court.
Some of the most epic scenes take place on the court. Like a certain kiss by a certain fan-favorite couple. Because yes, this show is “shippy” as heck.
14) My Boys
My Boy’s leading lady P.J. Franklin, played by Jordana Spiro, writes about sports, loves sports, and plays sports. Okay, so she doesn’t play professionally, but she loves to play.
Much in the style of Sex and the City, P.J. uses sports metaphor’s to talk about her life in her column and the audience gets to hear her take with a voiceover.
The show is about a tomboy who loves sports and has all male friends but is still girly enough to have one female friend with whom she talks about boys. So maybe it’s a little stereotypical. It’s still cute and relatable, or as relatable as a sitcom can be expected to be.
The characters are fun in their antics and quirks. There’s sitcom-level drama and romance and lots and lots of poker. Because while P.J. and her friends live for the cubs, the big game in their lives is clearly their regular poker game.
All and all, it’s just a fun show. Like most sitcoms, it’s best not to think too hard about it.
15) Make It or Break It
Remember when I said cheerleading is a sport? Gymnastics is like cheerleading on steroids.
Make It or Break It came out in 2009, three years after Stick It successfully portrayed gymnastics drama on the big screen. In the beginning, it seemed like the show was caught up in petty rivalries and boy drama, but it soon hit it’s stride, lasting three successful seasons.
The show was full of teen drama, but had the advantage of being mostly outside of normal high school, allowing it to focus exclusively on the athletes and the people in their lives.
If you are into ABCFamily/Freeform originals, this is the sports show for you.
16) Dance Academy
Grouped with cheerleading and gymnastics, dance is another underrated sport. This Australian teen drama focused on a private dance school where teen hopefuls worked tirelessly to achieve their dreams of joining a major ballet company.
It’s full of all the good, fun drama that a teen high school show would have. Yes, there are ships. And there are friendships and rivalries. And there are injuries and eating disorders. It ‘s the whole teen sports show package.
The show ran for three seasons. Years later, a movie hit Australian theaters catching up with the characters after graduation as they tried to make their careers.
Not living in Australia myself, I was bummed to miss the premiere, but the movie eventually hit Netflix.
We can’t talk dancing shows and not talk about Bunheads. This show was much lighter than Dance Academy and had way less drama. Then again, there was a death in the first episode, so I guess it’s all relative.
Bunheads dealt with different generations of women (and men) who were passionate about dance and made it their life. Dance wasn’t as prominent a character in the show as it could have been, but that wasn’t really why we watched, was it?
A lot of people watched because Amy Sherman Palladino created the show. It was her comeback after Gilmore Girls.
Unfortunately, a lot of people were expecting it to BE Gilmore Girls. Some of the same cast were involved and drawing the line between what was the same and what was different about the two shows became difficult.
That’s probably why the show only lasted eighteen episodes. They were good episodes though, and the show is worth binging, even if you’ll be left wishing there was more.
So, what did you think of our list?
Did you find some good sports but not sports content to binge?
Did we miss something?
Let us know in the comments.
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..