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10 Must-Watch Sports Documentaries

If you want to learn from and get inspired by real world-class athletes, sports documentaries are a good place to start. The difference between sports movies and documentaries is in their realness; documentaries provide an insight into the lives of real athletes.

Sports movies are great; they can be a powerful motivating force for the aspiring or dejected athlete. The best sports movies have inspired people to get started with sports and become the best in their field.

However, sports documentaries are about real athletes – even if they don’t always have a happy ending. There is a lot you can learn from the life of your favorite athlete from sports documentaries, regardless of the genre.

Watching sports documentaries is especially recommended if you want to become a professional athlete; you can watch pros play first-hand. If you’re ready to get started, below are ten sports documentaries that every athlete or sports enthusiast must watch.

LFG

This 2021 documentary on the USWNT (U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team) is an award-winning film. It features interviews with several star athletes, including Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe.

It documents the USWNT’s battle for respect in a field hostile to women, particularly where USSF asserts that men’s soccer was more complicated than the ECS T10. Thankfully, both leagues settled in February 2022, and both men and women get the same income henceforth.

Icarus

Icarus, released in 2017, features director Bryan Fogel trying to prove that drug screening in sports isn’t enough. He meets with Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian scientist, who gives him an idea of how to test his theory.

They work together to expose the scandal while working to protect Grigory from the Russian government. They got the country partially banned from the 2016 and 2018 Olympics with Grigory living under witness protection till today.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams is a three-hour documentary released in 1994, one of the documentaries sports documentarians cites as an inspiration. It documents two Black teens who, in a white-dominated prep school in Chicago, began playing basketball for an elite program.

The documentary follows the boys through their four years in high school, detailing how they coped with injuries, among other things.

The Last Dance

The Last Dance premiered in April 2020 and recorded massive success, part of which had to do with the pandemic lockdown. It features ten episodes on Michael Jordan’s attempts to win his sixth championship in his final season with the Chicago Bulls.

There’s also the must-watch footage of the Bulls on the court and Carmen Electra recalling when she hid from Jordan on a Vegas holiday.

Free Solo

Free Solo is one of the best sports documentaries worth watching; it documents the practice of climbing rocks without a rope or harness. It is a documentary on the dangerous sport of free solo, following Alex Honnold, an expert climber. It details Alex’s attempt at a free solo climb of the 3,000ft-tall El Capitan in the Yosemite National Park.

Athlete A

Athlete A is a harrowing, true-crime film produced by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk that tracks the slow unraveling of USAG. Several young women of USA Gymnastics brought allegations of sexual abuse forward against Larry Nassar, the team’s doctor. He had worked for the team for twenty years before his treacherous acts were discovered.

O.J.

Although not entirely a documentary, Exra Edelman’s award-winning film does feature a considerable amount of time dedicated to O.J. Simpson’s career. O.J.: Made in America talks about Simpson’s fame at USC and record-breaking time with the Buffalo Bills. It also details the star’s murder trial, acquittal, and his life after.

Beyond the Mat

Beyond the Mat is a 1999 documentary that makes someone who knows nothing about wrestling appreciate the sport. It documents the different stages of the careers of three wrestlers: Terry Funk, Mick Foley, and “The Snake” Roberts. Wrestling has a reputation for being staged or fake, but this documentary was real enough to be aired on a WWF broadcast.

The Price of Gold

This 2014 documentary series documents the lead-up to the attack on Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Olympics. It features an extensive interview with Tonya Harding, the producer of the series, who is more complicated than the media portrays. While Nancy Kerrigan’s lack of participation can downplay the movie’s impact, it is still a must-watch for figure skating enthusiasts – or fans.

Senna

Senna, the documentary, details the life of the Brazilian champion, Ayrton Senna, who died at age 34. The documentary paints an impressionistic picture of a man who loved a sport and eventually gave his life for it. While it doesn’t end with a happy ending, Senna is still a must-watch sports documentary today.

Conclusion 

Watching fictional athletes in sports movies is fun, but nothing satisfies more than watching the real thing. There have been countless releases of outstanding sports documentaries over the years, including Free Solo and The Last Dance. Sports documentaries help you understand the secret behind the prowess of great athletes. They help you understand what makes athletes capable of doing what they do.

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