Why sports musicals don’t work.

While watching Rocky IV for the 143rd time the other night, I twittered the question, “Why don’t sports musicals work?”

Something about ’em doesn’t translate, and something about ’em doesn’t even get people trying.  Beside Good News and Damn Yankees, what other shows have sports based themes and been successful?

Is it just because it’s harder to show a Rudy-like football game or a Hoosiers-like basketball championship on a stage?


Is it just because sports tend to be viewed, played and loved by a male majority, and we all know who buys theater tickets?


But I think it comes down to the simple fact that the focus of films is on action (inherent in the name “moving” or “motion” pictures).

The focus of the theater, however, is on characters.

So when you’re writing your next big show, it’s not as much as what happens along the way as who it’s happening to, and who is doing the happening (August Osage is a fine example of a pretty near perfect character driven play).

Oh, and despite rumors that there is a Rocky musical on the way written by Tom Meehan and Ahrens and Flaherty, I’m taking bets that it never gets into the ring.  Any takers?  I’ll give 3:1 odds.

And if it does make it, I’ll go double or nothing that it gets knocked out in the first round.

Related Posts


Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.