The latest USA Team Handball Board of Director’s Meeting Minutes from December 12 of last year include a short paragraph regarding a reality TV show concept centered around team handball. Below is the text of the minutes:
Reality Concept – Bob (Djokovich) reviewed his attached document which goes back 20 months when the organization was approached by directors about a Reality Show. The goal is to find ex-Pro and D1 athletes who learn the sport, win the Pan Am Games and then go on to do well at the Olympics. The directors contacted USATH again six months ago and NBC also approached us about a similar process. Since Rio, we have connected the producers and have pitched to NBC Execs and have a soft go. We are currently looking for sponsors with the goal of starting to shoot the show in the February/March timeframe. They want to attend our current events. The Board received the original slides, which now have been updated and capture more of the intent. When IHF President, Hassan Moustafa was given a preview of the slide deck on the project, he wanted the directors to come to Paris to see the finals of the Men’s World Championships in late January in Paris at his expense. We are moving cautiously to make this happen and the USOC is aware of this project.
An NBC Executive Producer did in fact attend the recent World Championships and efforts are ongoing to get formal NBC approval to proceed. The timeline, however, has been moved back to starting this summer at the earliest. And, as with most TV projects, a number of steps are involved between the development of a concept and it’s airing on TV. But, make no mistake: This is a real effort with a solid chance of eventually making it on TV.
Commentary: I, for one, am skeptical as to whether this show could accomplish the stated goals of winning the PANAM Games and qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. Brazil, in particular, would be a really tough foe to beat for a bunch of handball newbies, even if they are very athletically gifted. That being said this reality show would surely be very entertaining to watch. If they get some good athletes they might not be able to beat Brazil, but given some solid training for a month or two they could beat every club team in the U.S. and probably our current national team. It would depend on the athletes participating and it would depend on how seriously they take their training.
Setting aside the practicality of the show’s premise the real story is the potential impact the show could have in terms of promotional value. A television show about team handball in prime time on a major TV network! We get excited every four years during the Olympics when handball is discovered by thousands of people on secondary TV channels at odd hours of the day. This exposure would dwarf that Olympic exposure and if the show is a success ratings wise it could trigger a grass roots explosion.