‘Onion SportsDome’ Premiere Recap

S1E1: Who doesn’t love The Onion? The self-proclaimed “America’s Finest News Source” has been delivering us some of the best fake news around for the past two decades. And now, like all good things, it has a television show on Comedy Central. Was it successful? Let’s take a look.

“You’re face is going to get all stretched back from the G-force of sports we’re about to throw at you.”

I grew up in a town in Western Iowa where sports were king. It’s a cliche, yes, but most of my friends were athletes in some capacity. And if they weren’t athletes, they were sports fans. Hell, I was even an athlete for one season out of the year (football). There were a few odd balls, but on the whole, everybody in my community loved anything with a ball. Basically, I’ve been surrounded by sports my entire life. This doesn’t bother me that much. I got exposure to arts and culture (albeit, not a tremendous amount) when I was in high school, but anything that really mattered in the eyes of the community was how well the football team did or if the basketball team made it to State.

Now, the only reason I’m giving you a little bit of background on my life is because I want you to understand my perspective. And honestly, why I think it’s so damn funny to see someone finally take a stab at what seems to be “holy ground.”

“You can still play basketball by the old rules, but that sport isn’t called basketball anymore, it’s called lameball.”

No one else makes fun of sports. At least not that often. Yeah, some pop culture outlets (like myself) will take a crack at fantasy football leagues or this country’s emphasis on the Super Bowl, but really, in this country, we worship sports. Nearly every medium available — movies, TV shows, books, sections of newspapers, magazines, etc — has a significant portion of its budget dedicated to sports. Why do we live that way? Well, I think the reason is because so many people spend their lives looking to identify with different teams; whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees they can find an identity or more accurately, an unchanging identity. If you’re a fan of the Chicago Cubs, every year, those Chicago Cubs are going to play baseball. And no matter what, you can cheer for your team, your sports family. It’s not like a relationship with a real family, all you have to do is watch. You don’t have to provide for your kids, or be considerate of your wife, or listen to your friend’s problems. You just have to turn on the TV and watch.

Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not one to judge. I love a few sports teams myself (go Iowa Hawkeyes!) and it is nice to have that comfort in our lives. I don’t deny that, but I think it’s because of this reliance we have on sports that we are afraid to make fun of them. Enter, The Onion.

“Let’s move on to the world of crystal meth hallucination.”

Honestly, I was a little disappointed that the show wasn’t taking the approach of say, The Daily Show or even The Onion’s sister entertainment publication, The AV Club. I thought for a moment that we would have Onion sportscasters reporting real news, but just making fun of it. I’m not sure why I expected this, considering The Onion’s whole gag is fake news. But regardless, I really wanted to see them tear into the sports world, mainly, because of that “holy ground” notion.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fucking hilarious to hear the guys commentate on a meth addict fighting imaginary snakes. And it’s even funnier to see the meth addict swinging his fists around in the air, thinking that his fists are snakes. But really, wouldn’t it have been funny to finally hear a snarky take on sports? You may be thinking, “Well, that’s what SportsCenter does, and SportsDome is just mocking them,” and that’s true, yes. But, SportsCenter doesn’t have writers like The Onion. They rely more on the personalities on screen to give us some exciting, sports coverage and it works really well. With SportsDome, The Onion had an opportunity to push sports commentary to a different level while making fun of it.

For example, I read The AV Club nearly every day because they have terrific writers who are not only hilarious, but give extreme, in-depth analysis about entertainment news. I know it’s a little harder to judge sports because it’s competition, not just entertainment, but I believe if SportsDome would’ve taken a high-brow, extremely judgmental view of sports, they could have stumbled into an area that frankly, hasn’t been discovered yet.

“Let’s toss it over to the Den of Death for another round of ‘Who Would You Kill.'”

Maybe that idea wouldn’t work. But, let’s look at this “Who Would You Kill” segment. What if they used this opportunity to actually commentate on the sports world? Granted, describing how you would murder an athlete because he missed the game-winning shot might seem a bit over the top, but isn’t that what The Onion does? They push comedy to absurd levels. Grounding these segments in things that are actually happening in the world would not only be funny, but I think it would increase the viewership. Because right now, who’s watching SportsDome? My guess is that it’s people like me, who don’t care a tremendous amount about sports but instead, want to laugh. But if they pegged their stories to current events, and had extreme opinions about them, I feel that the average ESPN viewer might flip over to Comedy Central once a week to catch just how these dudes were mocking their rival teams this week.

“I didn’t choose to have metal hands.”

Regardless of my complaints, SportsDome is hilarious and I will definitely keep watching (the metal hands clip killed me). I just think The Onion missed an opportunity to maybe push sports commentary to a different level. Maybe they could convince ESPN that they are really not that cool and that there’s more to sports commentary than coming up with catch phrases like “cooler than the other side of the pillow.” Bottom line, SportsDome is funny. I just expected it to be a little bit more than just pure comedy.