Many may love sport for its drama, excitement or the feeling of togetherness it engenders.
Others love it for its speed, danger, thrill and passion when two individuals, or teams, go up against one another.
From time to time in sport, something special, unusual or downright crazy happens. The event then transcends sport. Becoming famous, or infamous, in its own right.
And when this happens, there is a good chance that a sporting documentary will be made about the individual, team or event.
So, with that in mind, we have put together a list of ten of the very best sporting documentaries. We’ll also list where you can find them and what the documentary is about.
Yes, films and TV series about Sport are all well and good, but sometimes real life is stranger than fiction! As these sporting documentaries prove!
Ten of the Best Sporting Documentaries
10. Untold – Malice at the Palace
One of the most dramatic and dangerous incidents in the history of the NBA took place. On Nov 19th 2004. An event that would come to be known as Malice at the Palace.
It tells the story of the Indiana Pacers v Detroit Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. A game Indiana were winning comfortably 97-82 as the game entered its final minute.
The story that follows is as incredible as it is shameful as players, coaches, fans and police become embroiled in a running battle in the stands and on the pitch.
The main instigator, Ron Artest, now called Metta Sandiford-Artest gets to have his say on how events unfolded. As do many of his teammates and rivals. This is a must-see documentary whether or not you are a fan of the NBA.
9. Pumping Iron
Little did we know at the time that this 1977 documentary about body building would unleash the careers of two men. One who would go on to star in film and TV, the other who would become a megastar.
Pumping Iron follows the stories of two bodybuilders as they seek to prepare for the Mr Universe title. The elite prize in body building for men.
Those men were American Lou Ferrigno, the man who would go on to become immortalised in the TV show The Incredible Hulk, and his Austrian rival Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It was the latter who went on to global fame and it is interesting to see where it all started for the two most famous bodybuilders of their era.
Available On – Prime Video (Buy or Rent)
Now a successful tennis commentator and pundit, John McEnroe first round fame, or rather infamy, as a tennis professional in the 1970s and 1980s.
Not only was the left-handed New Yorker prodigiously talented, he also had a temper to match and his regular arguments with umpires, line judges, fans and other players were the stuff of legend.
One of the most gifted players of all time, McEnroe’s rivalry with the likes of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors defined his early career. He was a seven time Grand Slam winner in singles, and nine time Grand Slam winner in doubles.
An immense talent and McEnroe lifts the lid on what made the American ace so volatile, and so brilliant.
Available On – Prime Video (Buy)
7. Welcome to Wrexham
The premise of two American TV and Film Stars joining forces to buy what was a non-league sports club in a sport they barely know, in a country 5,000 miles away, sounds like a far-fetched script.
However, it’s a reality and documented on the Welcome to Wrexham series.
Imbued with a rare sense of self-awareness, humour and an appreciation of Wrexham and the surrounding area, this is a fantastic series that has already proven to be a smash hit across the United States and in the UK.
Watch out too for the Ifor Williams announcement, which is as smart a viral campaign as you will see!
Available On – Disney +
Peyton Manning is the ideal man to produce this fantastic series which looks at the 2022 NFL Season through the eyes of three quarterbacks with very different tales to tell.
There’s the eventual Super Bowl winning champion Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Playoff bound Minnesota Vikings signal caller Kirk Cousins and the struggling Atlanta Falcons QB Marcus Mariota.
A fantastic addition to the NFL series of films, Quarterback has already been confirmed for season 2023 and NFL fans should rejoice as this is as good an NFL documentary as you will get.
5. Diego Maradona: Rebel, Hero, Hustler, God
One of the most brilliant football players ever, Diego Armando Maradona was also one of the most polarising. Loved by millions and vilified by many others, his career had as many downs as they did ups.
However, there was no denying his talent with a ball at his feet and in this documentary, you get to see just what an incredible player Maradona was.
In an era where defenders could routinely scythe players down without getting so much as a booking, the fact Maradona played as long as he did is amazing. To play as well as he did, was the work of a true sporting genius.
All geniuses are flawed, and this documentary shows that side of Maradona too. But this was a man who did single-handedly win a World Cup. And nobody has ever done that before or since.
Available On – Amazon Prime (Rent or Buy)
4. Stephen Curry: Underrated
Rejected by Virginia Tech due to his small 160lb size, Stephen Curry started his career at Davidson College and the NBA was set to welcome a new superstar just a few years later.
Curry’s struggles to be taken as a serious NBA player are documented in this superb documentary which details Curry’s lifestory. From being regarded as a likely bust in the NBA by many analysts who mocked him because of his size, Curry went on to change the game.
The Three Point Era in the NBA began with Steph Curry and revolutionised how the game was played. He is now regarded as one of the best point guards in history and a man who changed how the NBA is played.
Available On – Apple TV+
3. Dark Horse
This intriguing documentary heads back to Wales as we learn the story of how an unlikely group of people, became owners of a Welsh horse racing champion.
A former coal mining community comes behind a barmaid and her husband, who buy a broodmare for £300 and ask other villagers for help and to become part of a syndicate.
This story tells their tale and of how the horse they bred, Dream Alliance, went on to win the Welsh Grand National.
Available On – Amazon Prime (Buy)
2. Graham Taylor: The Impossible Job
No list of sporting documentaries can be complete without the famous Graham Taylor documentary – The Impossible Job.
The inspiration behind Mike Bassett: England Manager, the documentary tells the hard-to-watch story of Graham Taylor’s demise as England manager.
“Do I Not Like That!” became a catchphrase from the documentary as Taylor was vilified in the press and subsequently by fans. It is an intriguing and occasionally hard watch but helped raise awareness of just what pressures the England managerial team are under.
You can view the documentary in full on Youtube.
1.The Last Dance
The story of Michael Jordan’s famous 1990 Chicago Bulls team. One of the dynasty teams of the NBA as well as the story of basketball’s greatest ever player.
This warts and all documentary pulls no punches looking at every aspect of Jordan’s career, including the Olympics Dream Team, his deal with Nike for Air Jordan, his initial retirement in 1993 and subsequent return to the team in 1995. The series leaves no stone unturned.
A fantastic documentary series that intrigues in all of the ten The Last Dance episodes.
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