15 Best Sports Documentaries You Can Watch Right Now
Suffering from sports withdrawal? These captivating documentaries will satisfy your sports fix during the shutdown.
The Last Dance
If any doubters need convincing of Michael Jordan’s all-time greatness on the basketball court, look no further than The Last Dance. Featuring newly unearthed archival footage, this highly-anticipated 10-episode series follows Jordan during his final season with the Chicago Bulls and the team’s quest to win its sixth NBA championship. The early lives of his teammates and coaches, as well as Jordan’s own larger-than-life history, are also explored. The Last Dance is the most-watched documentary in the history of ESPN and, at the time of this writing, the most popular series on Netflix. It’s not hard to see why. Netflix Canada.
We’ve rounded up the worst mistakes in sports history.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
The competitive world of Formula 1, as this stellar docuseries reveals, is equal parts soap opera and heart-stopping thriller. Featuring big names like Ferrari and Mercedes, and struggling teams like Haas, Drive to Survive follows a group of drivers, managers and owners who live life on the fast lane during the 2018 and 2019 Formula 1 World Championships. Netflix Canada.
Led by coach Monica Aldama, the competitive cheerleaders of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, have won 14 National Championships since 2000. But for these athletes, who come from all walks of life, the rigors of training and burden of expectations are nothing compared to their individual stories of adversity. Over the course of six episodes, Cheer follows the cheerleaders as they face injuries and personal setbacks—all leading up to the final competition at the National Championship. Netflix Canada.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball
Sixties television actor Bing Russell had a dream: a minor league baseball team that was free from corporate sponsorships and full of wild characters. In 1973, his fantasy became a reality in the form of the Portland Mavericks. He had one rule, however: tryouts must be open to everyone. Featuring archival footage and interviews with former players (including Bing’s son, Kurt Russell, who played on the team during its inaugural season), The Battered Bastards of Baseball is every bit as whimsical—and wonderful—as its title suggests. Netflix Canada.
These are the highest-rated movies on Netflix Canada, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Love Means Zero
At his 40-acre academy south of Tampa, Florida, tennis coach Nick Bollettieri trained some of the most gifted players of all time—Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and the Williams sisters, to name a few. The twist? He himself never played a professional game of tennis. Love Means Zero explores Bollettieri’s singular approach to the sport, his flare for self-promotion, and the events that destroyed his relationship with his student and best friend, Andre Agassi. Crave.
All or Nothing: Manchester City
All or Nothing: Manchester City follows the famed English football club through its record-shattering 2017-2018 Premier League season. The team’s highs (setting the Premier League record for most points in a season at 100 and winning the league championship) and lows (manager Pep Guardiola desperately trying to inspire his exhausted players in the locker room) are all on display. Sir Ben Kingsley serves as narrator of this riveting eight-episode docuseries. Amazon Prime Video.
The reason why North Americans say “soccer” instead of “football” may surprise you.
If you love hockey, chances are you’ve got an opinion on whether violence is ruining the sport or an integral part of the game. Ice Guardians, a 2016 documentary by Canadian filmmaker Brett Harvey, sits firmly in the latter camp. But rather than celebrating hockey’s tough guys, Ice Guardians provides a surprisingly in-depth cultural and psychological analysis of the traditional “enforcer” role. Buoyed by highlights and interviews with dozens of NHL Hall of Famers and former players (Brett Hull, Wendel Clark and Dave Semenko, among others), Ice Guardians is a thrilling tribute to an endangered breed. Netflix Canada.
New to hockey? Consider this guide to Canadian hockey slang required reading.
Last Chance U
Despite its tiny student population and relative obscurity, the East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) in Scooba, Mississippi, has won five national football championships. Much of its program’s success has to do with coach Buddy Stephens, who each year helps a group of young men on their last legs pursue their dreams of becoming stars of the NFL. Last Chance U is a gripping testament to perseverance. Netflix Canada.
Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians
If you’re not one of the 1.6-billion who watched the Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019, consider Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians your crash course on the ultra-popular sport. This eight-episode documentary follows the Indian Premier League champion Mumbai Indians through the 2018 season, as the team struggles to defend its title. Featuring nail-biting cricket action and behind-the-scenes drama, Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians might just turn you into a new fan of the gentleman’s game. Netflix Canada.
Andy Murray: Resurfacing
After winning three Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in a five-year period, Andy Murray was on top of the tennis world. A devastating hip injury, however, forced the phenom to drop out of the 2017 US Open and lose his No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal. From the front lines of operating rooms to the intimate corners of his home and gym, Andy Murray: Resurfacing follows the tennis star’s difficult two-year journey to return to the sport he loves more than anything. Amazon Prime Video.
Maradona in Mexico
Widely considered one of soccer’s greatest players, Diego Maradona famously led Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup. Struggles with substance abuse and a fiery temper, however, tarnished his reputation over the ensuing years. Enter Dorados de Sinaloa: a second-division club in gang-ravaged Culiacán, Mexico—the heart of the Sinaloa drug cartel. The team has hired Maradona as manager, but can he pull his weight? As Maradona in Mexico shows, sometimes people can be reborn in the unlikeliest of places. Netflix Canada.
Winner of the 1988, 1990 and 1991 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships, Brazil-born Ayrton Senna was a racing legend by the time he was 32. Tragically, that glorious career was cut short when he was killed in a car accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Featuring archive race footage, home videos and interviews with his friends, family and racing rivals, Senna is nothing short of captivating. Amazon Prime Video.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die
One of the great joys of being a sports fan is to watch your team pick itself up from crushing defeat and go on to win it all. Sunderland ‘Til I Die, on the other hand, is almost exclusively about failure. This behind-the-scenes documentary follows the beleaguered Sunderland A.F.C. after it’s demoted to the third tier of the English football system. Players, managers and ownership scramble to get back to the second tier, while loyal fans deal with yet another blow to their city’s pride. Sunderland ‘Til I Die is the next best thing to watching live sports because, well, sometimes your team doesn’t actually pull through. Netflix Canada.
Kareem: Minority of One
If you love basketball, you know that the current debate about the “greatest player of all time” usually pits LeBron James against Michael Jordan. But how often do you hear Kareem Abdul-Jabbar named as a contender? Rarely—and Kareem: Minority of One aims to change that. The six-time NBA champion perfected the most unstoppable move in the game—the “Skyhook”—and remains the all-time leader in points scored. His legendary reputation off the court as a champion of racial equality is also highlighted. Crave.
All or Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys
The 2017 season of the Dallas Cowboys was tumultuous for many reasons: running back Ezekiel Elliott faced a six-game suspension for his off-field behaviour, protests against the U.S. national anthem took over the league, and (spoiler alert) the team missed the playoffs. Everything is bigger in Texas, however, and that maxim is also true for the Cowboys—the most valuable sports team in the world. All or Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys provides a unique look at one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. Amazon Prime Video.
Next, check out these feel-good movies on Netflix Canada!