These are some of my favorite sports documentaries of all time. I’ve tried to include many different sports in this list but I’m sure I left some out so let me know if I forgot any of your favorites!
This documentary won an Oscar for Best Documentary and it’s not hard to see why. It follows an inner city high school in Memphis that’s run by a volunteer coach. The stories of these individual players is so touching and interesting. It just gives audiences a lot of insight into the struggles that these kids have to deal with. This is a documentary that’s pretty impossible not to cry over.
One of the best documentaries about baseball and an extremely long one at that. It’s a very in depth look at the history of baseball. It makes sure to stick as close to the dates and important decades in the sport as possible. As a whole, it’s just a fun documentary that teaches you a lot about all of the players and dates that are significant for baseball.
3. The Endless Summer
A timeless documentary that changed the direction of surfing documentaries right around. It takes a unique first person point of view that had a way of making audiences feel that they were actually apart of the story. Bruce Brown’s approach to filming and narrating in this feature in general was something that we hadn’t yet seen. He also showed that the theory “less is more” can be a relevant one when used by the right filmmaker.
4. Hoop Dreams
This is a long one but it’s far from boring, the length is perfect for you to get involved in the lives of these two high school basketball players who have dreams of playing in the NBA. That plot sounds like a simple one, what basketball player doesn’t have that dream? But as you take a closer look, you realize the racial and economic challenges that these two African American boys have to deal with. It becomes a lot more about their lives outside of the sport and that’s what keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time.
5. 30 for 30: Fab Five
ESPN 30 for 30 films never disappoint. They always manage to tell such fascinating stories from various points of view. This one in particular revealed a lot about how these underprivileged boys were given the opportunity to play basketball at Michigan. At the time, they came off as being “cocky” and “punks” but this gives us more insight as four of the boys (Chris Webber didn’t want to be apart of it) were interviewed as well as other coaches and reporters around during this time. I gained a lot of respect for them after watching this and seeing how much they truly changed culture and what people thought about them.
6. 30 for 30: Into The Wind
30 for 30 isn’t typically known for being so emotional and heartbreaking. Most of the time, just the facts are being presented and it isn’t exactly tear jerking. However, this story about Terry Fox is bound to make even the hardest of hearts shed a few tears. Canadian Terry Fox was a big runner when his leg was amputated at the age of 19 because of cancer. In 1980, he ends up running across Canada on one leg. His relentless work ethic and pure love for running is so heartwarming and inspiring.
7. We Could Be King
An inspiring look at two Philadelphia rival schools being forced to combine their football programs due to budget cuts. The horrors that these kids go through is really emotional. One of the boys Dontae is a big guy who is extremely sensitive and it breaks your heart when the boy struggles with reading out loud. The coach himself is also an inspiration, he began helping these boys after his close friend was murdered. He wanted to help these boys get away from the realities of their lives and focus on the sport they all love.
8. The Battered Bastards Of Baseball
The Portland Mavericks were an independent team owned by Bing Russell, father of actor Kurt Russell who also did some acting himself. The movie is hilarious but also touching to see these underdogs rise to the top in such hilarious fashion. The people interviewed including Kurt Russell, a batboy, players, coaches, Kurt’s mom, and many more give us new dimensions to the story.