America has no shortage of TV shows based on British templates. American Idol is the biggest example, and virtually every The Next Top Fill-in-the-Blank program has been stamped from this mold. However, I think we have room for another one. In fact, I can’t believe this show has not yet been adapted for Stateside viewing.
It originates from Sky Sports, the English satellite station that broadcasts a wide array of athletic endeavors to the British public. (The last time I was in England, I took in their thrilling coverage of Premier League Darts.) But soccer–excuse me, football–is obviously the biggest draw. Among their many football-centric programs is Fan Zone, a show that demonstrates that Slob Culture is not only alive in the UK, but thriving. It consists of footage of two fans (one from each team) watching a match, talking smack to one another and commenting on the action.
That’s it? you ask. Yes, that’s it, but watch this clip from a Liverpool-Arsenal match and tell me if you need any more than this. (And before you ask, no, the Arsenal fan is not Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil.)
Or how about this collection of insanity from an Arsenal-Tottenham match?
Amazing. The entire array of human emotions in under three minutes. Heartbreak. Sorrow. Joy. Taunting. Shirtlessness. This is drama, people.
The show is occasionally broadcast here on Fox Soccer Channel as Premier League Fan Zone. But can you imagine if this show was adapted for American sports? Just picture the delicious, hilarious taunting that could go on between fans of rival (American) football teams. And not that this rivalry needs any more exposure, but imagine a Yankees fan and a Red Sox fan locked in a room and forced to yell at each other. It’s the only thing that could make a four-hour-plus AL East game in April tolerable.
Truth be told, I don’t know if American sports like baseball and football could work as well in this format as soccer. Our games are very stop-start, whereas soccer has sustained tension, since the clock never stops and scoring is at a premium. Also, I have a feeling that an American version would inevitably have more violence. And weapons. And fire.
Still, that’s no reason why we can’t try. And if European soccer–a sport that results in actual fan deaths with disturbing regularity–can abide a show like this, surely American sports can. Get on the stick, Hollywood development types. Lift your noses from a mound of coke and hammer out a deal memo on this concept pronto. You can thank me with a producer’s credit later.