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Magnificent 7: best sports-related moments in TV comedies

Featuring Fawlty Towers, The Simpsons, and of course, Shaq’s appearance in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Shaq gets injured (on Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Shaq gets injured (on Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Image: YouTube

FOLLOWING A RECENT South Park episode that looked satirically at the Lance Armstrong scandal, we started considering other great TV episodes of the past that were in some way associated with sport.

Consequently, here are our seven such favourite moments:

1. The Simpsons – ‘Homer at the Bat’

Featuring a number of guest voice-overs from some of the biggest stars in baseball at the time, ‘Homer at the Bat’ was perhaps the first truly classic Simpsons episode and one of the finest comedic takes on sport that TV, or any other form of entertainment, has ever come up with.

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2. South Park – ‘Up the Down Steroid’

The Lance Armstrong episode was not the first time South Park had satirised the world of sport, or indeed its stars’ use of performance-enhancing drugs (it alludes to athletes involved in steroid controversies, including Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi). ‘Up the Down Steroid’ was one of the more controversial episodes that the show has produced, with Cartman entering the Special Olympics by fooling the judges into thinking he’s disabled, before roundly losing in every event.

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3. Seinfeld – George gets a job with the New York Yankees

One of Seinfeld’s more fantastical plots, George gets a dream job with the New York Yankees having previously been unemployed, leading to much hilarity and some great special guest appearances. It’s a running gag rather throughout the series, rather than an idea for a standalone episode, and still, it never runs out of steam.

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4. Father Ted – ‘Escape From Victory’

One of the most fondly remembered episodes of the much-missed sitcom, ‘Escape From Victory’ showcases the show’s customary brand of surreal humour, as Ted takes charge of an Over-75s five-a-side football team, as he comes up with a scheme to beat his arch nemesis Fr Dick Byrne. Mrs Doyle and her friends singing lurid football chants is among the highlights.

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5. Friends – ‘The One with the Football’

Another classic piece of TV, Ross and Monica’s childhood rivalry is reawakened when the gang decide to play a casual game of American football on Thanksgiving. And while the sibling rivalry is amusing, Ross and Joey competing over the affections of an alluring female observer is arguably the highlight.

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6. Fawlty Towers – ‘Communication Problems’

Admittedly, this is quite a tenuous link, as sport isn’t actually shown at all in this episode, nonetheless the horse bet that Basil ill-advisedly makes remains an integral part of the plot. Moreover, it’s such a hilarious and well-crafted piece of TV comedy that we couldn’t resist including it.

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7. Curb Your Enthusiasm – ‘Shaq’

Larry David displays characteristic awkwardness and idiocy when he accidentally trips up the LA Lakers’ star player Shaquille O’Neal, as the latter is warming up on the side of the court. The episode was one of the funniest of the show’s second series, and is also easily the best thing that some-time actor Shaq has ever starred in.

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PHOTO: Celtic manager Neil Lennon, wearing Mikasa gloves, playing for Armagh’s minors>

The YouTube top 10: because people really don’t like Lance Armstrong>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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