How Trey Parker And Matt Stone’s Biggest Bomb Predicted The Future Of Pro Sports
South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone have obviously worked on a ton of projects outside of their long-running animated series; the award-winning Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, that sitcom about George W. Bush, and every nightmare you’ve had about the Matt Damon puppet from Team America: World Police.
Perhaps one of Parker and Stone’s most underrated efforts (even by Parker and Stone themselves) is the 1998 David Zucker comedy BASEketball, starring the duo as two foul-mouthed doofuses who invent a new sport – one that ends up being played professionally in fake driveways all across the U.S.A.
Despite the fact that it starred the creators of everyone’s favorite new filthy cartoon series, and was helmed by the director of The Naked Gun, when it hit theaters in ‘98, BASEketball bombed harder than the bus from Speed. On its opening weekend, it debuted at number 11 on the charts, possibly because the recently released There’s Something About Mary was hogging America’s attention, leaving little to no space for any comedies that didn’t feature ejaculate being inexplicably mistaken for hair care products.
Even though it was a big flop, oddly, much of BASKEketball is still relevant today – no, not the casual racism, rampant sexism, and constant homophobic and transphobic gags, but some of the satirical jabs at the commercialization of pro-sports are still pertinent in 2022. Take the joke about the depressing future of corporate naming rights for stadiums; while there’s no Preparation H Arena in real life (yet) –
– corporate-backed stadium name changes are going to increasingly weird places; even as cryptocurrencies are crashing, Los Angeles is now home to the “Crypto.com Arena,” which some critics have decried as “lame.” Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox play at “Guaranteed Rate Field,” and the less said about the “KFC Yum! Center,” the better since it’s both a grammatical nightmare and way less accurate than calling it, say, the “KFC Why did I eat that, where’s the nearest bathroom, oh no it’s too late! Center.”
BASEketball also questioned the “excessive celebration” of athletes, as evidenced by a quick scene in which an entire football team does an Irish jig, since making fun of Riverdance and/or Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance was always slam dunk for ‘90s comedies.
Touchdown celebrations remain a contentious issue in the NFL, and have somehow gotten even stranger in recent years – not just because running back Alex Collins actually started celebrating touchdowns with Irish jigs …
But just last month, the Detroit Lions’ Jamaal Williams was fined $13,261 for a touchdown celebration that was deemed to be too sexy.
Not to mention that the central, ridiculous premise of BASEketball really doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore; we’re living in a time when goofy games played by random nobodies are constantly organized into leagues and even televised, be it pillow fights, rock paper scissors, or the sport formerly known as Quidditch.
And even more specifically, BASEketball seemingly predicted the future design of the Miami Marlins’ uniforms with the costumes for the “Miami Dealers.” And the film’s running joke that Bob Costas keeps saying awkward non-sequiturs during game broadcasts?
Yeah, that seems eerily accurate, in retrospect.
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Thumbnail: Universal Pictures