By now, anyone with a pulse and good wireless internet has heard about, if not watched one of the two dueling documentaries on the albatross that was the Fyre Festival. Certainly, some people became unwitting stars while others became a rightful cause de celebre from the infamy caused by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule.
Perhaps because Hulu’s controversial decisions surrounding its efforts, the larger chatter has been around Netflix documentary, Fyre, where just about 30 seconds in, you can smell the scam, but become so hooked on the drama of watching hell slowly unfurl itself. And not long after watching it, you may have become incensed at the sheer arrogance and stupidity of it all. For yours truly, that anger led me to look for some sort of anecdote that would remind me that there are people who not only can put on a show but seemingly avoid ripping people off in the process.
That’s where 7 Days Out: World’s Biggest Events comes in.
Netflix actually debuted this six-episode docuseries at the end of 2018 but arrived with little fanfare in spite of the subject matter. The series looks at six separate and significant events that have rapt and passionate global connections - or if we can ever prove it that life exists on other planets, intergalactic ones. Each episode provides a seven-day glimpse into the production and people behind these spectacles - from the stories behind the participants to the actual processes of building the stages where the magic happens.
Three of the episodes are actually sports-related, though there is fair debate among two of them. The initial episode focused on the 2018 Westminster Dog Show in New York City, and even if you are far from a dog lover, you cannot help but be enthralled by the kinds of people who are involved in the competition. The last episode focuses on the North American championships for League of Legends, the most popular and big-moneyed esports tournament on Earth. With the huge influx of money from the traditional sports world, the final stanza answers a lot of questions about why competitive gaming, in some respects, rivals the ball-and-stick games in terms of passionate fan bases.
Among the sport-specific episodes, the one that captured my attention the most focused on “the fastest two minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby. From the outside, the first leg of the Triple Crown seems like the oddest of sights for those of us who look for humans to become superhuman on a nightly basis. But as part of the greatest day in American sports - the first Saturday in May, not Super Bowl Sunday - it never fails to capture our attention or our wallets since it adds to one of the most active days of online betting all year.
When watching the Derby episode, which captured Justify's win en route to becoming the 13th horse to ever win the Triple Crown last May, I was immediately taken back to my trip to the Daytona 500 last year. While the competitors couldn’t be more different - horsepower versus, you know, horses - there are striking similarities between the week prior for Churchill Downs and Daytona International Speedway. Each has other high-stakes races leading up to their signature events. Each has their own deeply rooted traditions among the fans, including copious amounts of liquor being consumed. And each gets the blood pumping for diehard fans, casual observers and culture vultures alike.
By and large, the reason why 7 Days Out serves as a panacea for Fyre is that you actually see visions being implemented at all levels, with each detail becoming more and more crucial as the week progresses. There aren’t any duffel bags of cash from manipulated benefactors. There aren’t email threads serving as paper trails for malfeasance. And even as the stakes get higher and higher, there aren’t schadenfreude-dripped tweets of poorly-made sandwiches and Lord of the Flies-inspired memes. No, these are professionals who put their full beings into making sure that the crowd goes home with indelibly positive, or at least memorable experiences.
In an era where frauds and the foolish who follow them are all the rage in our media consumption, 7 Days Out was a much-needed reminder that for every Billy McFarland or Ja Rule, there are plenty of people in sports and the overall entertainment industry who will always try to give you your money’s worth.
Jason is the editor-in-chief here at TSFJ. In addition to a past life as a research analyst in advertising, television and online media, he spent seven seasons as the New York Beacon's beat writer for the New York Giants. Jason has written for Yardbarker, Dime Magazine, Decider, Awful Announcing and The Week. He is also a member of his high school's 4th period gym class floor hockey champions.