Summer House: is it reality?

A new reality show on ESPNU has an interesting premise. On July 25, ESPNU will debut a new reality show, “Summer House,” featuring six incoming freshmen college football players in a house for a week. According to a report in Broadcast & Cable (link here), the show will feature players competing in various non-football challenges, include non-football competitions such as performing a dance routine during halftime of a women’s professional basketball game. ESPN college football analyst Chris Spielman will serve as the “house dad” on the show, and ESPNU anchor Mike Hall and ESPN college football analyst Bob Davie will also have roles.

This may be a fun and exciting exercise for these students, but it raises several concerns:

  • Are they are being exploited for commercialization through product-placement or other advertising?
  • Does any type of payment (cash or gifts) for participating in the show affect their eligibility?
  • Does this show add to the pressures of heightened expectations when they arrive on campus this fall?
  • How will this “reality show” prepare them for a new segment of their lives as a student and as an athlete on campus?

The show, filmed in Chicago, will air Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET.