Writing is a far more creative art than most, but the act of doing it is most definitely not the most dramatic or entertaining to watch. Make your TV show hero a mystery writer and you’ve got to also make him an amateur detective in order to give him something interesting to. Writing a column for a newspaper doesn’t have any inherent drama in the production of material, so generally any character with this job manages to run into a wide variety of people with more glamorous lives. Which is why the sports columnist is probably one of the most often dramatized writing careers in TV history, not far behind intrepid reporters and mystery novelists.
The Odd Couple
One of the most famous columnists on TV is most definitely Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple.” Although the show focused on the stark personality differences between Oscar and his finicky OCD roommate Felix Ungar, some episodes did actually give an indication of what it takes to a sports columnist. Oscar’s career as a sports columnist gave the show opportunities to do episodes about college football recruiting, bring on Howard Cosell as a guest star and utilize Madison’s celebrity to bring him into contact with more glamorous people.
Everybody Loves Raymond
Well, Oscar Madison was the most famous sports columnist in TV history until Ray showed up in town. Ray Romano was not quite of the same status as Oscar Madison, but he did pretty good. Just not good enough to get away with anything from his harridan wife and nosy family. The sports column that Ray Romano wrote actually seemed to have little impact on episode content and increasingly less as the show went on. In fact, many episodes of “Everybody Love Raymond” could be about a guy with almost any job at all who also happened to love sports to a ridiculous degree. Meaning, of course, that “Everybody Loves Raymond” could have been practically any other family sitcom ever produced in terms of the job of its lead character. Which means that while Ray Romano may be a more well known sports columnist today than Oscar Madison, he is far less of a memorable sports columnist in TV history.
The Debbie Reynolds Show
When Debbie Reynolds decided to try her hand at starring in a TV show for the first time, she picked the job of sports columnist. A lady sports columnist? Was such a thing too crazy even for the transition from 60s to 70s? And why a sports columnist? Perhaps because the job created naturally comic plot situations ranging from a George Plimpton-esque episode about becoming a lady wrestler to investigate the world of wrestling to dealing with a Soviet track star who decided to defect.
John Palmaro worked for a Chicago paper as a sports columnist and was divorced instead of married. Aside from those two differences, not much stands in the way of mixing up Palmaro and Romano. Both shows present sports column writing as the perfect career for lazy guys whose love of sports is pretty much the only thing they have going for them in life. So there is hope for your slacker adult kid still hanging around your house, eating chips and memorizing the most useless statistics in the world.