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You can only pick one: Sports drama

You can only pick one, and boy the pressure is on. The DB team will answer a new prompt in each post, and you’re invited to do the same in the comments. Ready to play?
 

You can only pick one: sports drama

 
missvictrix: I’m one of those viewers who doesn’t care for sports, and swears she won’t watch a sports drama. Then, I watch them and love them. I think my favorite, though, would have to be Love All Play. Sure it took a dive into its depressing middle and didn’t look back, but I totally forgave the drama, because it was trying to do deep things, and carry its characters through grief, guilt, and forgiveness. Add to this a story of teamwork, with badminton players that went from hateable to loveable, the squishy and wonderful Chae Jong-hyeop who’s head over heals for Park Joo-hyun (who’s so versatile and great in everything), and I am sold. I’m even cheering for badminton players and caring about tournaments. I would even rewatch this one, which is saying a lot.

DaebakGrits: Since I recently gave Stove League as my answer for the Namgoong Min prompt, I’m going to give Racket Boys as my answer. I enjoyed the crap out of this little slice-of-life sports drama when it aired last year. So fun! So youthful! And such a good performance by Tang Joon-sang and the other young actors! It’s impossible to watch this story and not smile. Try it! I dare you!

solstices: Cheerleading is technically a sport, so I’d have to say Sassy Go Go! I don’t usually watch sports dramas (I’m terrible at sports, and thus rarely have interest in them), but this drama was so earnest and full of heart that I found myself wholly invested in the team’s journey. I loved it from beginning to end — the loyal friendships, the witty banter, the cheerleading choreography, the grudging yet genuine camaraderie, and the redemption arcs that were fully earned. The two clubs may have started out on completely opposite ends on the spectrum, but cheerleading brought them together, allowing them to see past their prejudice and form a solid support system for one another. I’m still mad that I can’t rewatch it because I don’t want to see that school violence assailant, but as a whole the drama still holds a special place in my heart. Can Lee Won-geun, Jung Eun-ji, Cha Hak-yeon, and Chae Soo-bin co-star in another drama again, please?

Unit: Cheerleading is a sport, right? Even though its routines left much to be desired, Sassy Go Go is still that one drama that has my heart. I’m a sucker for stories that start out with a reluctant set of people coming together, and ending up being the best squad ever. But more than the cheer routines, Sassy Go Go is a tale of high school friendships, fights, making up, gaining self confidence, standing up for oneself, cute crushes and first loves. And most importantly, Lee Won-geun and his beautiful eye smile, which made me a lifelong fan.

alathe: Stove League! Okay, so, confession time: what I know about sports you could scrawl onto the head of a pin with room to spare. In fact, I know so little that I spent the first episode of this show convinced that the title was Hot Stove “Leak” and was desperately searching for the metaphor. So, that’s how you know this drama is truly, amazingly good. It somehow got me to care about baseball. It’s all down to a gorgeously written, deeply human ensemble cast, with flaws every bit as endearing as their enthusiasm and goodness. Namgoong Min and Park Eun-bin make for a delightful double-act — individually, they shine, but together they’re magnetic. However, what really made the drama for me was how real and redeemable it makes its seeming villains. The characters of Kwon Kyung-min and Lim Dong-gyu are like a masterclass in how to write a satisfying redemption arc. By the end of this show, you’ll be experiencing all the emotions for the entire cast of about fifty million characters, in addition to being able to spout reels of statistics regarding their baseball performance last season. This show is one of utter joy for me, and I can’t recommend it enough.

 
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Surprised I didn't see Weightlifting Fairy!

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True.

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I thought about this one, but I saw it a long time ago and I have some other contenders in mind.

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You need to! Also, it is timeless.

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I contemplated giving Weightlifting Fairy as my answer, but I didn't choose it because, in my opinion, it feels more like a romance set in a sports high school. To help narrow down my decision (because I can only pick one!) I focused on dramas where the featured sport was the primary source of conflict and had a heavy hand in the direction of the plot.

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Yes, that’s what came to mind first when I read the headline, probably because it was the only true sports drama I’ve seen before the more recent Racket Boys. I did see Triple (figure skating) but it was too long ago.

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My Racket Boys.

Honorable mentions:
Sassy Go Go
25-21

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This question is easy for me because I have only watched one sports drama: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

And it became one of my favorites, but not so much for the sport plot as for the cute and charismatic characters and their relationship.

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That's way it isn't on my list, tbh. I was only focused on the romance during the whole thing lol. I only paid attention to the athletic component of the show with Si Ho's storyline and when Bok Joo had her identity crisis.

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For me, it was 25-21. The fencing scenes were top notch. Loved all of it and with a couple tweaks at the end, I would have loved it even more.

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The most memorable scenes in Twenty Five, Twenty One for me are easily the fencing matches between Hee-do and Yu-rim. Whether they are the scenes before or after they become friends, they are so emotionally-charged and both actresses do such a good job portraying that tension. I love every bit of it. They're definitely the best OTP of 2022. ;)

Thinking back through the year, I think that may be my favorite show of the year. I actually liked the ending, too.

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I'm surprised that my choices are not mentioned by any of the staff. But I'm glad some of them are mentioned in some of the above comments!

I was thinking of picking one among the three (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, 2521, and Run On ), but I would choose Run On. I think this one is also qualified here as it deals with the ML running and becoming somewhat of a running coach.

Now, if you knew me before this year, you would have been SO SURPRISED that you might as well jump out of the chair you're sitting on. This is a surprise for me, too! I used to hate it a lot, but thanks to @ndlessjoie and many Beans, I managed to watch it until the end in my third attempt. I didn't know what in particular made many Beans love it, but somehow this became one of a few shows that I actually rewatched. That says a lot because I don't normally watch shows that I already watched. I think the magic about it is that I feel like I enjoyed it even more in every recent rewatch. There is something peculiar about it that makes it a strange, refreshing show for me.

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I had forgotten that I had watched Run On too. I did not like that drama very much. I binged it, it was not boring, but I think I only ended it because of Kang Tae Oh (first time I 'met' him). I prefered his character over the main leads.

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Re-watching RUN ON right now and like you, I find it even more on the second watch. It is definitely in my top 10, but not my top sports drama since the focus is not on the sports so much as character growth and relationships

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Racket Boys! 💙

I loved this show. It stayed true to its genre and stayed sport-focused till the end. And what an endearing bunch of kids. I rooted for each one of them. The show made me play badminton again and it’s so much fun!

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Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. I have even watched it more than 3 times!
Honorable mention for Racket boys. Very cute... it was sports, family and friendship until the last episode.

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I guess the only sports themed Kdrama I've watched is Weightlifting Fairy. But if I'm gonna state by all-time favorite regardless of country, it would be the original Jdrama Hana Kimi. Because Oguri Shun. The End.

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So... I am not sure I have watched anything that would technically qualify as a sports drama. There are some that I would love to see, but just haven't gotten around to, and others that don't really interest me at all.

That said, I'm going with Move to Heaven. There is enough of a boxing/MMA subplot with Lee Je-hoon and Lee Jae-wook that I think it counts. Each of the cases of the week was well-done and the overall story of the uncle and nephew bonding was so sweet. I'd watch it again if I could stop myself from crying so much.

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I really liked Love All Play and 25-21, but because of their flaws, I would have to give number 1 to Weightlifting Fairy. It's not easy to get a good performance from Lee Sung-kyung or Nam Joo-hyuk, but they were adorable in this.

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Oddly, I love sports but don't care much for sports dramas.

"Love All Play" and "Weight Lifting Fairy" are romances first, and sports dramas second, and maybe that's why they both gave me all the feels.

Neither one is perfect. Besides the issues missvictrix mentions, I'm still annoyed that we didn't get more of the ML and FL playing badminton together. And I'll never get over having to buy the former model Lee Syung-kyung as a body builder who feels, and is sometimes made to feel, like she's fat and unattractive.

However, I felt completely immersed in the world the drama created, never fast forwarded a scene in either one, and loved the main couples, especially the male leads.

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@laurensophie Ever noticed how SK Drama/Movies do some of the best chase scenes...but are nowhere near as compelling at running scenes.

SK Drama remains a world of, and seen through hierarchal fiefdoms and its sports dramas are tied to that world. So often the sport event itself is not the key factor - its a mirror that either plays out some power dispute or is a result of one. (eg. RUN ON was both at the same time).

For that reason 'Ho Goos Love' for me just as much a SK sports drama as 'Weight Lifting Fairy' or 'RUN ON'. Sport in a world of agencies and idols is business and politics and although most viewers focus on the love, it is actually Uee and her world that is the catalyst for every event in the show.

P.S. Japan is the opposite, always amazing running, but its chase scenes leave me cold. Their love of explanation seems to tie so well with sports dramas. Heck they can even make Karuta work as a sports drama.

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RACKET BOYS for the win!!!!
*finger hearts*

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@alathe SPOT ON!
Stove League is in a league of its own. In more than one catagory: Sports drama, office drama, bromance drama, redemption drama...

That being said, and although it is not entirely a sports drama, I can in no way pass up this opportunity to recommend one of my most favorite shows ever: Wild Romance.

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Which sport is the focus of Wild Romance?

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Male lead is a professional baseball player. Female lead is a former professional boxer and Judoka.

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And female lead’s family are rabid baseball fans.

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Looks cute. I will have to check it out when I am in the mood for an oldie.

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Also I think it’s so cool the female lead in real life took up amateur boxing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Si-young

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Yep, right after this same role.

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Yes, @alathe captured the complete genius of Hot Stove League. Besides all the drama genres she mentioned it's also a FAN drama because it captures the joys and sorrows of following a team through thick and thin. Park Eun Bin plus Namgoong Min is an all star lineup in any league!

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Racket Boys of course. My husband and I used to play badminton (amateur leagues only) so we appreciated the moves done by the kids - they were coached well. But beyond the sports, I love all the characters and the journey they went through. There was no unnecessary angst, and no villains and yet the show was entertaining all through out.

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My favourite one is Racket Boys! It was really good until the end. The sport had a big place in the story, with every character playing and living for this sport.

Stove League was really good but the fact that the leads didn't practice the sport makes me feel it as less sportive...

Love All Play frustrated me a lot. I was very sad that everybody ignored the ML's feelings during the whole drama. The FL spent her time to change her mind and it was exhausting.

Sassy Go Go always has been a school drama for me. I can't remember their cheerleading scenes 😅

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Stove League

Honorable Mention
Racket Boys
2521
Sassy Go Go

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My first answer would be STOVE LEAGUE but if by sports drama you mean one that centers around the athletes themselves than my favorite remains WEIGHTLIFTING FAIRY KIM BOK-JOO.

Another favorite is an older K-drama (from 2010) called DR. CHAMP. Like STOVE LEAGUE it is not centered around the athletes themselves but rather their doctors and coaches. It is a wonderful and uplifting story.

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Racket boys because all bases were covered; I loved the story, the characters, the small town setting, the message the drama portrayed and warm feeling it evoked at the time and still does whenever I am reminded of the drama. Also the cameo from the Prison Playbook screen stealer.

Honourable mentions:
Love, Play All for the sweetest male lead character he needed the patience of Job with the most self centred sister who only saved herself by calling out his injury straight away. He had to tolerate his parents who only saw his sister and wait for his girlfriend to stop pushing him away or crying a river and wake up to the depth of love he had for her. Best Sunbae long term wait love story so she didn’t need to choose between her daughter or the man who had loved her first.

25,21 for the best sports related proposal.

Hot stove league for his strategy to get the best for the team and fans despite the opposition of those who didn’t see the bigger picture.

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Fight My Way. Does that count? If not, Triple.

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Ooh! Yes, I would say it counts. He is a MMA fighter.

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I agree! (I'm an avid MMA viewer, not practioner, fan of the Korean Zombie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Korean_Zombie)

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I vote “yes” on FMW being a sports drama, and declare it the all-time champion. Absolutely no contest; a real “knockout” of a series! 🥊 🤭🤣

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Gosh, I watch kdramas to avoid sports!

But I’ll give Weightlifting Fairy my vote 🥰

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Weightlifting Fairy for me! In fact I am rewatching again right this moment... 2521 is also great... but I realised what I enjoy most about watching sports dramas are the team dynamics and the friendships. These athletes spend so much time with each other training, they usually develop a v close friendship.

I'm surprised Daebakgrits have a profile pic featuring Bok Joo from Weightlifting Fairy but didn't pick the show. heh.

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Weirdly, I love sports dramas (I only follow figure skating and could tell you very little about any other sport). I think I love following the journey of athletes because they are going beyond their limits every day.
So many great dramas have been mentioned! It is a hard choice, but I would have to say Hot Stove League because that drama made me fascinated with baseball when I find baseball boring as watching water boil.

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I am watching a C-drama FALLING INTO YOU about track and field athletes and the focus on sport is fantastic. The actors actually look like athletes too! (Now that I think of it there are quite a lot of sports c-dramas.)

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DANCE SPORT GIRLS!
I can't believe I forgot this one. It is my honorable mention. Not only for the wonderful look into dance sports, but also for the mother-daughter relationship. My heart.
Sorry for the multiple posts; I should have planned my first comment ahead. 🤭

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I am also a big fan of Dance Sports
Girls/Just Dance! Fight for My Way too.

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Prison Playbook. (Wise prison life)
It's about a baseball player after all! 😉 And we see him play a lot. The whole drama is a gem.
But if that doesn't count, I'm going with Stove League. Which is also a gem. My favourite scene of the drama (among so many other great scenes) is the moment when statistics fan brother and the one colleague (did I ever mention I'm rubbish with names?! 🤣) are doing the live commentary in that booth. I was so hoping they'd pick it up during the ending and let those two do it again, they were sooo fantastic! 🙂

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I loved Prison Playbook, EXCEPT for the sports elements. The way the show portrayed a pitcher’s injuries and the rehab process was completely off base and had me yelling at the screen.

I find myself scratching my head sometimes at how inaccurately K-dramas depict specialized professions—medical dramas especially. Does anybody know whether K-dramas use technical consultants?

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Okay...I have to say I couldn't tell because I just have no idea what would be right or wrong in that field. But I sometimes wonder if consultants are used (and their opinions valued) anywhere. The series Grimm comes to mind (not a kdrama, but a great series still 😉) where some of the characters were said to speak German, and some names of things / creatures / whatevers were said to be actualky German as well. I have no idea what this was but German it was not. (But hilarious nonetheless, they made up some great expressions!) If anybody had been a consultant they made a shitty job.

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It’s fascinating to me that they didn’t bother getting the German right…that strikes me as a bit lazy (if it wasn’t purely for budget reasons)!🤷🏻‍♀️ I didn’t watch all of Killing Eve but I really admired Jodie Comer’s ability to speak so many different languages convincingly as part of her role.

This is even more of a tangent, but Line of Duty in the UK (a show about police misconduct and corruption) did incredibly well, and I believe one of the reasons was because they had police consultant(s) for the show. If I’m not misremembering, one of the consultants actually participated in the comments and discussions section of The Guardian TV blog whilst the show was live-airing (at least for the earlier seasons). Those were good times (and kind of reminds me of DB, but not as nice).😊

I don’t mind when shows sometimes take creative liberties, but there’s definitely something to be said about accuracy and authenticity. I’m not an expert in any field portrayed in popular dramas, but I imagine shows are more enjoyable for people who are!

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I like ot a lot when shows are using real life science / knowledge and people who know about that to implement it. At House, M.D. they had medical consultants, and many episodes relied on real cases.
However! 😉 For me, dramas (k or not), TV shows etc are no documentaries, and I can take in a lot of nonsense because I label it for myself as fairy tales. They are set in a dimension with its own set of rules. The only thing I demand is: they have to operate in their own logic. It bothers me a lot if the writers haven't done their job and things are happening that wouldn't work in this particular world. But if that's done right, you can sell me any kind of nonsense and I'll buy it...if it's entertaining and well played, of course. 🙂 That's why I didn't bother about the deformed German in Grimm, it was such a well thought-out world that this didn't really matter. Only in a few scenes. But I did wonder from time to time if there really hadn't been anyone around to ask...

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When it comes to characters who are not Asian or who grew up speaking a language other than Korean, not much attention seems to be paid to accuracy in ethnicity and accent. In The K2, for example, an Arab translator is played by a blue-eyed, fair-skinned American actress. A number of dramas feature a character who supposedly grew up in the US, but speaks English with a thick Korean accent. English dialogue is often stilted and unidiomatic.

It reminds me of old Hollywood movies, when actors with non-English/American accents were used interchangeably in any “foreign” role: a French actor playing a Russian, a Russian actress playing a southeast Asian Indian, etc. I guess they figured American audiences wouldn’t be able to tell the difference (which they probably couldn’t!)

I confess to being nitpicky about these kinds of details. I’m trying hard to just go with the flow, not think too much, and just enjoy the drama!

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@Babylilo

I understand you! Totally agree with this:

"A number of dramas feature a character who supposedly grew up in the US, but speaks English with a thick Korean accent. English dialogue is often stilted and unidiomatic."

Sometimes I wish there are subtitles when these characters converse in English. Lol

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Is @missvictrix me? I’d choose Love All Play cos it’s my most recent one and had all my favorite tropes. I could do with less depressing tears but i still loved it overall.

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I love sports shows. They almost always have some sort of underdog or rivalry theme even if it is secondary to the main plot. My vote has to be Stove League but if i could vote for more than one? I'd need a lot of votes! I would even put Mental Coach Jegal here for the beautiful ice skating and swimming parts in it. It was really about the sports and the athletes and what they go through as competitors. The other thing I like is that I always learn more about the particular sport and that is fun for someone who always wished she had the sports jean but was always last in school things. At least I did get a blackbelt in TKD after much effort and sweat!

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Congrats on the black belt, what an achievement!👏

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thank you! It is one of the highlights of my life and I had a Korean master who was an awesome if stern teacher. That's where my love for all things Korean started-with a borrowed CD of Cool from him, which lead to a great love of Korean music etc.

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gene

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Weightlifting Fairy, hands down. Granted, I think I've watched only one other sports drama, Sassy Go Go! (which I didn't finish), so I don't have much to choose from, but Weightlifting Fairy is one of my favorite dramas of all time. I love the female lead, I love the male lead, I love them together, and to make this relevant to this post, I actually really cared about all of the stuff going on with our three sports groups as well. That's a big deal, because I normally never care about sports in stories.

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My ultimate favourites from the sports genre would be Weightlifting fairy Kim Bok Joo, Sassy Go Go and Racket Boys on my list. Cant choose between them

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