The coronavirus has postponed both sports and “Saturday Night Live” (for the time being, anyway). But in the rich half-decade of this show’s history, there are plenty of sports-related sketches to watch while you wait for your favorite teams to head back on the field/court/rink.
It was difficult to even narrow the field down, considering the show has had the benefit of athletes pulling host duty and plenty of material to work with, from the All-Drug Olympics to March Madness brackets (and Actual Madness brackets) to hosts such as from Eli to Peyton Manning. ‘SNL’ has made a point of skewing the sports we love to watch, and the people we love to watch play them.
With that, here are the rankings for the best “Saturday Night Live sports sketches ever:
Bill Swerski’s Superfans: Bears vs. Giants
Weekend Update: Kevin Nealon on the All-Drug Olympics
The U.S. Men’s Heterosexual Figure Skating Championship
Eli Manning: Little Brothers Organization
CBS Sports: Actual Madness Tournament
17. ESPN Classic: 1987 Ladies’ World Cup of Curling
Why it’s good: “SNL” has several variations of this sketch, and they all focus on women’s sports and announcers who are absolutely clueless. Their product endorsements are wrong, but good-natured and well-intentioned.
(Jason Sudeikis, as Pete Twinkle): “Greg, I gotta ask you, what is the purpose of those brushes?”
(Will Forte as Greg Stink): “No idea.”
(Twinkle): “Well I mean if you had to take a stab in the dark.”
(Stink): “Oh I’d probably kill someone.”
16. Weekend Update: David Ortiz on Getting Shot
Why it’s good: Kenan Thompson could read the dictionary and it would be entertaining. But he manages to capture the silly side of Big Papi — and Big Papi loves a big lunch. The sneakiest-funny part of these sketches is always his endorsements for products that seem slightly unrealistic, but hey, it’s Big Papi’s money.
Best line: “I had to go to the hospital in the Dominican Republic. You know what they have in the hospital there? They got Mofongo. Chicharones. Beef Steaks Con Mas Beef Steak.”
Runner-up: “Hair BNB. You need a wig for the weekend, use Hair BNB. Every wig is made of 100% guinea pig hair. Very itchy.”
15. March Madness
Why it’s good: This sketch is hard to find, and while parts of it are a bit tone-deaf (insinuating a woman would only pick a bracket based on mascot cuteness, for example) we do get to watch Peyton Manning grow visibly more frustrated, and then be flat-out mocked for half of the sketch.
(Sudeikis as Chris Graham): “This year, Arizona was supposed to make the Elite Eight. Instead, once again, they turned out to be the tournament’s Peyton Manning.”
(Manning as Ted Trimble): “What do you mean?”
(Graham): “Well, you know how, every year, Arizona comes in with impressive stats and all the hype, and, every year, they fizzle out.”
14. Weekend Update: Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA
Why it’s good: Thompson and Jay Pharoah are the real dream team of comedy. They make each other laugh as much as the audience. Again, Thompson has a great impression, and Pharoah just takes it to another level of insanity.
Best line: “Shaq man, you gotta shape up. You are my emergency contact, man!”
Runner-up: “This man grew so big his brain fell through his neck. It’s just all empty air up there, man. I can see through his ears, it’s turrible.”
13. Get on the bag, Brandon!
Why it’s good: We all know those dads who pushed their kids at Little League. Ferrell’s transitions from yelling maniacally at his son to calmly speaking with the parents around him — and the increasing terror of the people in the stands pleading with Brandon to get on the bag — make for comedy gold.
Best line: “I WILL CHAIN YOU TO A PIPE IN A CRAWLSPACE IF YOU DON’T GET ON THE BAG! NOW GET ON THAT BAG!”
12. Weekend Update: LaVar Ball on Big Baller Brand
Why it’s good: Again, Thompson shines in eccentricity. It can be difficult to make celebrities who are already a little wacky seem funny, but his LaVar Ball is a treasure of an impression.
Best line: “He’s gonna win a lot more than that. NBA MVP! Finals MVP! He’s gonna win an ESPY, a Grammy, a Purple Heart! And he’s gonna get best truck in his class by J.D. Power and Associates!”
Runner-up: “You ain’t seen what I can do! Look at me! I am 8 feet tall! I can jump 20 feet high! I once jumped over a Super Target. This past Thanksgiving, I ate 100 turkeys.”
11. ‘Outside the Lines’
Why it’s good: Watch Melissa McCarthy throw toasters and bricks at players, fire at them with a T-shirt cannon, try to run them over with a golf cart and make them serve her dinner. Physical comedy done well.
Best line: We can’t print the things Sheila Kelly screams at her players, so just trust us and watch the sketch.
10. Sunday Night Football Theme Song
Why it’s good: Come for Bill Hader’s Cris Collinsworth impression, stay for Jane Lynch rocking out to her own lyrics (which delve into the Eagles history, nacho recipes, and then just naming the players on each team). The cuts to Al Michaels and Collinsworth in the booth only make the situation more ridiculous.
Best line: (sung by Jane Lynch) “Eagles lost a quarterback, Michael Vick/He used to fight dogs but tonight he’s sick.”
9. Spartan Cheerleaders at a Chess Tournament
Why it’s good: The energy, passion, and intensity of real cheerleaders only leads to even the chess club kids thinking they’re losers.
(Ferrell as Craig): “Oh my god! He’s going for Glenn’s bishop.”
(Cheri Oteri as Arianna): “Protect your bishop, Glenn!”
(Craig): “Don’t lose your bishop this early. Protect your bishop. Watch out for his horse. Oh that’s a great defensive play.”
Runner-up: (Cheer): “So you want a victory, well that makes you a wisher, cause one thing that is for sure you ain’t no Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer! Where is he? I don’t know! I don’t know!”
8. Space, The Infinite Frontier: Dr. Kent Wahler
Why it’s good: Watching Ferrell keep up that head bobble alone is worth your time. But stick around for Jeff Goldblum, who can’t hide his amusement — or his confusion.
Best line: “It’s a simple question, doctor. Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?”
7. Little Chocolate Donuts
Why it’s good: A classic early sketch featuring comedy legend John Belushi as a cigarette-smoking decathlon champion who was fueled by donuts.
Best line: “I logged a lot of miles training for that day. And I downed a lot of doughnuts. Little Chocolate Donuts.”
6. Football Halftime Speech
Why it’s good: Woody Harrelson plays the most high school football coach possible. The rules themselves are absurd, and Thompson makes an appearance as a very concussed Steelers legend D.C. Timmons.
Best line: “Back of the head, PUT YOUR PRINCESS TO BED!”
5. NFL Intros
Why it’s good: The straight-faced cast hits the tone of NFL intros perfectly. Their convictions absurdly range anywhere from assault to treason and involuntary prostitution. The players will also not be discussing their punishments, as they won’t be receiving any. Sometimes, the truth is the funniest part.
Best line: “Marvin Ingram, I was accused of sexual assault at THE Ohio State University.”
Runner-up: “Victor Naples, whole bunch of stuff!”
Runner-runner-up: “Lavar Washington, I punched a mailman, that’s federal baby.”
MORE: All the athletes who hosted ‘SNL,’ and their best sketches
4. Sports Announcer
Why it’s good: Chance the Rapper is very cold, and doesn’t know anything about hockey. In listing the absurdities of the sport (fighting, names with too many vowels) you realize that the sport actually might be as strange as he thinks it is.
Best line: “But hey, as they say in hockey … let’s do that hockey. I miss the Knicks. I’m just kidding. Lazlo Holmes, rinkside, very cold, Rangers vs. Oilies.”
3. Yankee Wives
Why it’s good: Jeter, David Wells, and David Cone? Getting in a fight over the Yankees players they think are hot? Jeter telling us he thinks Tino Martinez is “super foxy” and that he has “studied that bulge”? It’s a sketch that haunts Jeter to this day, and that in itself makes it worthy.
Best line: (Derek Jeter as Alfonso Soriano’s wife) “Jeter does not do it for me, he looks like if the Rock had sex with a muppet.”
Runner-up: “Clarisse, no one wants to have sex with Chuck Knoblauch!”
2. Jesus Visits Tim Tebow and The Denver Broncos
Why it’s good: The juxtaposition of Taran Killam’s eager, starstruck Tebow and relaxed, cool Jesus, played by Sudeikis, are a match made in comedy heaven (pun intended).
(Andy Samberg, as kicker Matt Prater): “Wow. You pray to me? I didn’t know that.”
(Sudeikis, as Jesus): Well, yeah. You know, uh — that’s because, uh, I’m not in everyone’s face about it.
1. ‘SNL’ Digital Short — United Way
Why it’s good: Peyton Manning delivers not just the performance of a lifetime, but an all-time “SNL” performance too. He throws footballs at children and teaches them how to break into a car and hit on women. Spend time with your kids, so he doesn’t have to. The former quarterback has appeared on the show many times but, of his entire oeuvre, this is by far the greatest. The sketch starts out normal and slowly devolves into Manning becoming a selfish jerk with a shady criminal past. Comedy at its best.
Best line: (Manning, speaking to children while drinking a beer) “Alright now I’ll kill a snitch. I’m not saying I have, I’m not saying I haven’t.”
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