Sports Night: The Pilot

One of my favorite television series was Sports Night, a fast paced and smart serial “dramedy” about relationships and inner-office politics at a sports/news show (think Sports Center, without Disney’s budget). Sports Night successfully talked about sports, while never being about sports.

I was home alone the other night and watched the pilot (again), and it occurred to me that I might find something to write about in these episodes. So, every Monday, I am going to reference a different episode and how it might relate to therapy, or at least how it may appeal to me personally.

In the Pilot, Jeremy is hoping to land the job of his dreams as an associate producer. He is asked to list 3 things that the New York Knicks (a professional basketball team) need to do to contend for the NBA title:

Ms. Whitaker…I would be great at this job. You’ve gotta believe me when I tell you I’ve been training my whole life for it. I’ve crunched stats, I’ve broken down film, and there wasn’t a team at my high school that didn’t have me for an equipment manager. I have read every box score in every newspaper that’s printed in English and has a sports section, and I have seen “Sports Night” every night since your first broadcast, two years, two months, and a week ago today. Now, yes, sure, indeed. I can tell you what Ewing and Oakley are shooting from the field, and that you’re not gonna stop John Starks if he squares up to the basket, and put any defensive pressure on Charlie Ward, he’s gonna fold like a cheap card table, but if you’re asking me for genuinely sophisticated analyses — and I sense that you are — you gotta give me some time…at least twenty minutes.

He is stressed; he continually speaks faster and faster, breathing less and less as the pace of his answer quickens.

His interviewer, Dana, gives him one more chance and he comes through:

Improve their free throw percentage…Run the floor…and…tell Spike Lee to sit down and shut up?

Like many successful therapists, he finds a way to see through the complexity of a problem to reveal a simple, yet playful, solution.

He was hired on the spot.


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