Five Must-See Sports Documentaries


Not everyone plays or even likes to watch sports. Luckily, there are sports documentaries that can bridge that disconnect. These five documentaries do a great job of blending sports action and human elements into an enjoyable film watching experience.

**Some spoilers may be ahead.**


  1. “Icarus”


Any of you familiar with Hollywood’s film awards might have heard of “Icarus” as it won the category of best documentary feature at the 2018 Oscars. The film starts with the focus around director Bryan Fogel as he wants to record his journey into whether doping in sports is worth it and if or how an athlete can cheat the doping tests. The focus of the film shifts about a quarter of the way through, as Fogel has been introduced to Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory. The shift takes the feel of “Icarus” from an average sports documentary into more of a spy-thriller as Fogel helps Rodchenkov escape potential Russian “silencing” as the World Anti-Doping Agency starts to investigate Russia for state sponsored doping with Rodchenkov as a primary focus.


  1. “O.J Made in America”

This documentary may qualify as a sports documentary but of the eight hour, five-part miniseries, not too much time is spent on sports. The film, of course, focuses on O.J Simpson from his days dominating football at USC and the Buffalo Bills, to the infamous murder trial where he got acquitted, to his jailing in Las Vegas. This film may be a time commitment, but it is worth it. Director Ezra Edelman and ESPN did a terrific job not just covering the events surrounding O.J, but also what they meant and how they impacted society.

  1. “When We Were Kings”

When We Were Kings” might not just be the best boxing documentary ever, but maybe the best boxing film ever. The film centers around the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not only does the film use great and rare archival footage of Ali spitting his famous poems and rhymes taunting his opponent, it uses archival footage of Ali talking about his thoughts and hopes for African-Americans. Director Leon Gast doesn’t just rely on archival footage. He interviews people that were involved in the build-up and the fight itself and doesn’t just focus on the fight in the interviews but also social and political aspects around the fight.

  1. “Innings to Ground Zero”

This baseball documentary gives great evidence that sports can be the greatest uniter of all. One of the worst days in American history happened on September 11th, but the country couldn’t just shut down and be paralyzed by fear. The film shows a connection between why baseball is the American pastime and how something as simple as a sport can heal the country. The film shows the events around the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks and how the country and especially New Yorkers rallied around the sport.

  1.  “Hillsborough”

“Hillsborough” follows the events the day of and all events before the release of the film about the Hillsborough disaster, when a standing section of a stadium in England collapsed during a FA cup game of Liverpool versus Nottingham Forest and resulted in almost 100 deaths and 800 injured persons. The film has gripping and emotional interviews with survivors and family members of the deceased, all still trying to recover and try to come to terms with what happened and get those responsible to be held accountable 23 years after.