Beneath every big or small athlete in the sports world is a unique story filled with blood, sweat, and tears. Behind each goal or touchdown made, there is a person with a story that led them onto that field. While most would not associate storytelling with the sports world, Jason Sciavicco, a producer pioneering a new genre of sports entertainment is here to change that.
Already having produced critically acclaimed sports docuseries, including Two-A-Days, Friday Night Tykes, and A Season With, Sciavicco has been narrating the stories of athletes and going beyond the surface to humanize them. His new Netflix project, Titletown High, is the perfect addition to his resume of docuseries that redefine the genre of sports entertainment.
Sciavicco got his start within sports entertainment TV while in college, where he helped produce student-run sports shows focusing on the Florida State University football team.
While attending school, he was offered a job as a production assistant for ABC Sports as they would often come to town to film live football games. After working with ABC Sports for a year, Sciavicco received an offer from Vince McMahon to work on XFL, a professional American football league.
Although the XFL only lasted a season, Sciavicco received an opportunity to work for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), where he worked for five years, producing backstage segments. Sciavicco describes the experience as his “first entry into sports entertainment,” as he learned the keys to engage an audience through storytelling and sports. However, wanting “to feel more challenged” within his career, Sciavicco was inspired to make Two-A-Days, his critically-acclaimed sports show, a reality.
Before Two-A-Days, there was Hard Knocks – a reality sports documentary show that first premiered in 2001 and followed NFL teams through their training camps.
Inspired by the success of Hard Knocks, Sciavicco wondered how “a show that follows high school football through a whole season and what these high school kids have to go through with the pressure of parents and earning scholarships” would resonate with an audience. Following high school football is “so much more dramatic than an NFL guy wondering whether he’s going to make the team or not.”
Sciavicco first pitched Two-A-Days when he was 24, and it was a series that nobody wanted to buy. An agent recommended taking the show to MTV executives who fell in love with the project. When the show commenced, the first season was filmed at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama, going on to be well received by an audience of 55 million people tuning in to watch the first episode.
The project itself was a catalyst for Sciavicco’s career within sports entertainment documentaries in which he wanted to go beyond solely showing the typical training of athletes. His focus was to humanize and emphasize the struggles that young athletes endure.
Sciavicco describes his first project as: “uncharted territory – where you took sports and entertainment and mixed them to tell stories. What I always liked about it is that with sports, you don’t have to fake anything. There are no redos. It’s just real, raw moments that you’re capturing, and you can bring stories from them.”
Ever since Two-A-Days success, Sciavicco has also produced sports documentaries that tell the story of the struggles of athletes, coaches, and at times, parents that occur behind the scenes of the live broadcasts showcased on sports channels. One of his most controversial projects is Friday Night Tykes, a docuseries that followed eight to ten-year-olds playing football in San Antonio, Texas.
Although the show was an instant hit when it premiered in 2014 on NBC, its controversy was based on “telling a story around the time society was questioning how far is too far to push our kids in sports.” The show required a mutual level of trust between the characters as they allowed their raw stories of being a part of a young football team to be told. The characters even went on The Today Show and Good Morning America amidst the controversy.
In 2015, A Season With, which followed major college football teams, including Notre Dame, Florida State, and US Naval Academy, premiered on Showtime. The show was followed by Sciavicco’s next project, Inside the Madness, which premiered on Facebook Watch in 2018 and focused on basketball, specifically the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.
Title Town High is Sciavicco’s latest project to tell the uncensored individual stories of a high school football team. Premiering on Netflix, the show follows the Valdosta High School football team and coach Rush Propst (who previously worked for Hoover High School and appeared in Two-A-Days, before his recent controversy and removal as head coach for Valdosta).
The show will chronicle the trials and tribulations of high school, including romance and rivalries, and how the young football players handle their personal and academic lives while having to work with a “loud, in-your-face, win at all costs” kind of coach.
Although pitching the show felt like a “gamble,” Sciavicco admits that the key to his success for projects is his ability to “entertain an audience” by showing them raw footage that captures the relatable moments. He has become somewhat of a pioneer of storytelling within the genre of sports and entertainment.
He emphasizes how “telling stories in sports is not easy. It’s not scripted; there are no do-overs.” But the talent it takes to be able to expertly narrate a story that holds true to both an audience and athletes is something that Sciavicco can say he specializes in.
Tune in to Titletown High now on Netflix to truly experience the crazy energy that goes into being a high school athlete.