Longing for more Friday Night Lights? Here are 5 big-hearted sports dramas to scratch the itch...

Friday Night Lights
(Image credit: NBC)

While the travails of a high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, a small, close-knit community in rural West Texas might not seem like subject matter that would capture the hearts and eyes of viewers who didn't care for American Football, Friday Night Lights was so good it had millions of people suddenly googling just exactly what a tight-end did and the intricacies of the NFL draft. 

The drama's skill is showcasing the effect the team, the Dillon Panthers, and their performances have on the town and everything in it. Suffocating and intoxicating all at the same time. The players, some barely teenagers, are elevated to local celebrities and they find the attention and goldfish bowl-like existence suffocating. 

An ensemble cast that included the likes of Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, Taylor Kitsch, Jesse Plemons, Michael B. Jordan and Jurnee Smollett, the drama remains an essential watch, 11 years after it finished its run on TV. 

Of course, lots of you will have already done Friday Night Lights and followed the highs and lows of the Panthers, and been left heartbroken by the show's end. So we're here with some alternatives, some other sporting dramas to scratch the itch and heal some of the wounds. Here are five sporting epics to heal ease the pain...

A League Of Their Own

Abbi Jacobson and D'Arcy Carden in A League of Their Own

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Prime Video's newly launched reboot of 1992 film of the same name, with the story focused on the formation of a World War II-era women's professional baseball team. 

The show, which stars Abbi Jacobson, Nick Offerman, Chanté Adams, D'Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Roberta Colindrez and Kelly McCormack, follows a group of women as they come together to form the Rockford Peaches, a women's team in the nascent All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

This is a warm, stylish and big-hearted drama, which has drawn rave reviews from critics. 

Where can I stream it?

Prime Video (Worldwide)

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso, Coach Beard and Nate the Great watching a training session

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

The great sporting drama of the moment, and, while it's billed as a comedy given the background of its star Jason Sudeikis and creator Bill Lawrence, Ted Lasso is a great deal more complicated than that. 

Lasso began life as a series of sketches, one made by NBC Sports to promote their new and expensively acquired coverage of the Premier League, where a college football coach was asked to take charge of Premier League heavyweights, before being unceremoniously dumped before the season started. 

The sketch proved so popular that Lawrence fleshed it out into something bigger and a show debuted on Apple TV Plus  in 2020. This time, Lasso had been hired to coach the fictional AFC Richmond in an attempt by its owner to spite her ex-husband, a life-long fan of the club. After waves of criticism from the media, the club's fans and the players, Lasso quickly starts to win people around with his relentless enthusiasm and inability to ever countenance giving up. 

The show has been a giant success for Apple, it has made stars of Sudeikis’ supporting cast Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddington and Nick Mohammed, and won countless awards. 

It's wackier than Friday Night Lights, but its wholesome big-hearted feel like definitely strike a chord with you if you fell in love with the Dillon Panthers. 

Where can I stream it?

Apple TV Plus (Worldwide)

Winning Time

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

(Image credit: HBO)

Less wholesome and more raucous than Friday Night Lights, but just as thrilling. 

Winning Time chronicles the 1980s Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. 

It begins with eccentric playboy Jerry Buss scraping together the money to buy the team, recruiting the young Magic Johnson (even I'd heard of him), and finding a coach to turn his team, which was struggling to get a crowd, never mind win anything, into a force in the NBA.

As the show goes on, the Lakers’ style of play, which became known as Showtime due to its relentless pursuit of points and fast, swashbuckling style, begins to pay dividends, taking the team all the way to the highest of heights.

Shot in grainy 1980s camcorder style, the show’s casting is pitch-perfect. John C. Reilly is the larger-than-life Buss, newcomer Quincy Isaiah is on great form as the cocky, perma-grinning Johnson, while the likes of Jason Segel, Gaby Hoffman, Jason Clarke, Tracy Letts, and Sally Field are all terrific in key supporting roles.

Don't care about basketball? It won't matter a bit, you'll be swept along by this rollercoaster. 

Where can I stream it?



Glow on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

GLOW, or the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling to use its full title, was cruelly cut down in its prime by Netflix, but there are still three wonderful seasons to get stuck into. 

Set in Los Angeles in 1985, the show follows Alison Brie’s Ruth Wilder, an actress whose career is not going the way she wants and needs to make money. With that in mind, she auditions for a fledgling professional wrestling promotion called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

Accepted into the squad, Wilder has to adjust her idealistic acting goals as she learns to work alongside GLOW's director Sam Sylvia and how wrestling audiences and theater-goers are rather different. 

A good-time, energetic and hugely fun watch. 

Where can I stream it?

Netflix (Worldwide)


Animal Kingdom

(Image credit: Viaplay)

A tougher entry for our final recommendation, with a trip inside the octagon. 

Frank Grillo, a man who has pulled more than one villainous turn in the MCU, stars Alvey Culina, a former MMA fighter who now runs a gym, Navy Street, with his girlfriend. 

Alvey's younger son, Nate, is his bright hope for the future with his fighting prowess, but he's still raw, while his older brother Jay continues to battle addiction issues. To save the gym, which is struggling financially, Alvey decides to try and rehabilitate the career of Ryan, a brilliant fighter who is just out of prison. Ryan's progress is made complicated by the fact he's Lisa's former fiancé, leaving them all with a tricky path to tread. 

A meaty, muscular drama, it's bloodier and naturally more violent than our other recommendations, but just as compelling. 

Where can I stream it?

Peacock (US), NOW TV (UK), 7Plus (AU)

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…