“The Bachelor” is My Football

As a non-sports person married to a sports fan, it has sometimes been hard for me to relate to my husband’s affinity for sports. The three hour football games, ESPN recap shows, and listening to radio sports analysis in the car is just…not my thing. I’m sure many non-sports people can relate.

I was once talking to my husband about my favorite reality show, “The Bachelor.” As I was discussing who I thought would win and why, he had an epiphany: “Oh my gosh. This is your football.”

The parallels between this show and actual sports are hard to ignore. Many contestants are actually former athletes. Both versions of the show (“The Bachelor” stars a male lead; “The Bachelorette” stars a female lead) involve skill and strategy to win—even physical strength and endurance. The “dates” the producers force these people to participate in can be really intense (I’m talking jumping out of airplanes, obstacle courses, and even cage fighting on Tayshia Adams’ 2021 season).

Contestants compete against one another for the lead’s affections and are systematically eliminated until there are only two remaining. The season finale is essentially the Super Bowl of reality TV. The last two contestants must strive to win the lead’s heart, with the end goal of becoming engaged.

As time goes on, I have become more…shall we say, invested in this show. It has moved from my “secret shame show” to a true hobby that I’ve given up trying to hide. I can’t say I’m proud of this, but over the last couple of years, I have become obsessed with listening to podcasts that break down the episodes and do in-depth analysis of the franchise, the contestants and the lead.

Podcasts & Social Media: “The Bachelor” Analysis

I won’t listen to just any podcast—and certainly none that are sanctioned by the franchise—because I want unbiased analysis. Which contestants are feigning affection for the lead just to stay on the show longer (hello, more Instagram followers)? How much of the drama is incited by the producers? Did she actually speak that offensive sentence, or were multiple audio clips pieced together to make her look bad? The podcasts I’m after are the ones that play detective, piecing together information from various sources to figure out what’s going on behind the curtain. I want to hear the show analyzed from every angle.

I’m not the only one who likens the franchise to sports. The Game of Roses podcast (GOR) is one of my favorites (I typically skip past the political commentary to get to the meat of the analysis). A completely spoiler-free listen, the hosts of the podcast provide ESPN-style statistical analysis of “The Bachelor” franchise, including weekly updates about how many Instagram followers the contestants have gained, as well as strategy analysis and outcome predictions (for example, despite being spoiler-free, the hosts of this podcast accurately predicted that Dale Moss would win Clare Crawley’s 2020 season of “The Bachelorette,” simply by looking at Dale’s Instagram account).

Another statistical brain to follow is Suzanna, aka @bachelordata on Instagram. She provides bachelor analysis based on pure data, such as how much screen time influences a contestant’s Instagram follower count, and how likely a woman who gets the first one-on-one date is likely to become the next bachelorette. It’s very similar to sports performance analysis, where data is used to explain why things are happening the way that they are and to predict what will happen as the season progresses.

I realize that this level of interest in a reality television show is probably not the healthiest for my psyche…yet, here we are. My hobby has been the perfect distraction for quarantine life with two young kids. I’ve accepted that I don’t have time to read books at this point, but I can manage one episode of reality television a week, and then easily pop in an earbud to get all that juicy ESPN-style analysis while I’m doing dishes or laundry.

I’m not saying I recommend this show as a hobby, but I’m also not not recommending it.

A Michigan native, Lauren has lived in the Kansas City area since 2014. She is now settled in Overland Park with her husband Taylor, 3-year-old son Silas, 1-year-old daughter Rosalie, and their three fur babies. Lauren spends most of her time taking care of her two littles, while also juggling some part-time work as a freelance communications professional. Lauren’s survival strategy is to look for humor and joy amidst the chaos. Her best advice for relieving stress is to bake a batch of cookies (works every time).