If you subscribe to HBO and are not a sports fan, it’s possible that you haven’t given Real Sports a try. That would be a tragic oversight because Real Sports is one the best investigative journalism programs on television today. It has been described as “60 Minutes for sports” but I find it to be the equal of that venerable show. It never fails to broadcast moving, important and timely stories about personalities, business and heart.
Segment 1 – Urban Meyer Profile
We are all aware of the physical and mental toll that playing sports at the highest levels can cost for the athletes. In this report Real Sports peeks behind the curtain of big time college football with a report on the very real sacrifices that the head coaches make. Urban Meyer is best known as the former head coach of the University of Florida football team. Florida plays in the Southeastern Conference, college football’s dominant conference for the last decade. The passionate fan base, high flying football heroics and thrill of victory mask an under-reported element that likely exists in many places in the sports world, fear of failure and obsession with winning.
This profile of Meyer reveals how a high achieving profession can result in prioritizing sports over one’s own family. I was taken with the honesty of Meyer and his family in addressing what led to a near heart attack. After winning several national championships at the University of Florida, Meyer found himself obsessed with continuing to win, going so far as to immediately begin recruiting next years players the night of their championship win. He resigned from Florida but has been unable to stay away from the pressure cooker for long, taking the top coaching position at Ohio State University. Meyer’s obsession was referred to as an addiction which I’m sure is the case with many who spend every waking hour focused on one thing. We hope watching this profile will help all those who might prioritize their profession at the expense of their family and their own health.
Segment 2 – Big Money Fantasy Football
Before seeing this segment investigating how fantasy football appears to be evolving into big time gambling I had no idea this fad existed. Amazingly there are people who make a living doing nothing more than playing fantasy sports. This rapidly growing industry is poised to more than double in size in one year’s time. The american appetite for sports information is never satisfied and this seems to be a way for fans to interact all day, every day with minor financial consequences, unlike traditional sports wagering. It remains to be seen whether casual betting will introduce a new generation to the perils of sports wagering but for now it is simply another success story in the ever growing industry of sports.
Segment 3 – Frank Caliendo Profile
Frank Caliendo is familiar to football fans as the often hilarious, sometimes irritating voice of comedy in the sports world. Virtually every famous sports personality has been given the Caliendo treatment, most famously John Madden, Karl Malone, and Terry Bradshaw. Like most comedians, Caliendo rarely appears as himself on camera and this profile gives him the opportunity to speak about his craft, voice and favorite sacred cows to skewer. I found myself amazed at his uncanny impression of Donald Trump, Bill Belichick and George W. Bush. His mimicry is absurd, funny and captures the essence of his targets. Some might disagree but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Mr. Caliendo clearly loves the subjects of his satire.
This was a new format for Real Sports. For the final segment, Mr. Gumbel moderated a discussion among several correspondents about the possible link between head injuries in the NFL and domestic violence. Real Sports was an early leader in covering the issue of brain damage caused by football. Each correspondent has covered the issue in-depth for years and years, well before the NFL was forced to address it. This was a smart and engaging conversation about the issue that is virtually inescapable when observing the NFL today. That was to be expected as Real Sports is created by some of the best sports journalists working today.