Eight great sports documentaries to stream now (and where to watch them)

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From in-game dramas to off-pitch scandals, the world of sports has always provided compelling fodder for documentary makers.

The ability to look back, sometimes decades later, to a time that captured the world’s attention has generally offered a fascinating viewing, both for those who vaguely remember the original event and to audiences who was not even born when it took place.

Things to watch scanned streaming services and put together a list of eight of the genre’s greatest feature documentaries (and where you can check them out).

Athlete A, Hoop Dreams and The Australian Dream are just three of the fabulous sports documentaries currently available to stream.

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Athlete A, Hoop Dreams and The Australian Dream are just three of the fabulous sports documentaries currently available to stream.

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Maggie Nichols is one of the gymnasts who unveils the problems within USA Gymnastics in Athlete A.

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Maggie Nichols is one of the gymnasts who unveils the problems within USA Gymnastics in Athlete A.

Athlete A (Netflix)

In the words of Things senior sports reporter Zoe George, “Forget Michael Jordan and The last dance“, It was” the most important sports documentary of 2020 “.

Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s story highlights the bravery of those who spoke out about years of abuse by USA Gymnastics (USAG) physician Larry Nassar and the systematic cover-up of former USAG President , Steve Penny.

“What is striking about the tone of the film is its redemptive warmth. Although the details are frightening, it is as if a cathartic space has been opened for these girls and their families to explain what they went through ”, wrote The Daily Telegraph’s Tim robey.

Adam Goodes was a beloved AFL player appearing to be forced out of the game by increasing abuse from so-called

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Adam Goodes was a beloved AFL player appearing to be forced out of the game by increasing abuse from so-called “fans”.

The Australian Dream (DocPlay, Beamafilm)

British documentary filmmaker Daniel Gordon’s 2019 story is both a beautiful and haunting portrayal of one of modern AFL’s greatest players and a former Australian of the Year, who lost his love for the game after continued abuse by “fans”.

It’s an uncomfortable, informative, and compelling viewing proof that America isn’t the only country with rampant and occasional racism and how social media only compounds these issues. Gordon recreates this gripping and poignant story using fabulous archival footage and in-depth interviews with Adam Goodes, his family, friends and foes.

Powerful, timely and heartbreaking, it’s a must-have watch for anyone who thinks that “just words” can’t hurt someone.

Bobby Fischer was one of the most exciting and eccentric chess players in the world.

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Bobby Fischer was one of the most exciting and eccentric chess players in the world.

Bobby Fischer vs. the World (DocPlay)

If Bobby Fischer was to play chess what Muhammad Ali was to boxing, then this 2011 HBO documentary is the King’s Game equivalent of When we were kings. The main focus of Liz Garbus’s film is Fischer’s 1972 Cold War clash against world chess champion Boris Spassky – a game that made headlines around the world.

It also takes a look at the rise and fall of Fischer (one of the game’s most exciting and eccentric players) and will remind older viewers of a time when chess was truly king, when cities fought each other. the world championships and the games attracted nightly media coverage.

Waimea Bay in Hawaii is just one of the many surf stops hosted by The Endless Summer.

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Waimea Bay in Hawaii is just one of the many surf stops hosted by The Endless Summer.

Endless Summer (iTunes, GooglePlay, YouTube)

The 1966 surf documentary that saw Bruce Brown follow two young surfers from around the world in search of the perfect wave.

Introducing the sport to new audiences and countries, it spawned a wave of similar travel accounts of “extreme sports” and, later, historical documentaries on the rise and fall of particular hobbies.

In addition to his incredible imagery, he was also notable for Brown’s relaxed and chatty storytelling, what legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert described as having “the nonchalance and exaggeration of a home theater enthusiast.”

Alex Honnold's historic ascent from the almost vertical cliff of El Capitan without ropes is captured in the film Free Solo.

JIMMY CHIN / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHY

Alex Honnold’s historic ascent from the almost vertical cliff of El Capitan without ropes is captured in the film Free Solo.

Free Solo (Disney +)

Those with even a hint of vertigo are urged to watch this 2018 story with caution as mountaineering scholar Alex Honnold attempts to scale Yosemite National Park’s 3,200 feet of “pure granite” without any ropes.

Directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi do a stunning job capturing every crevice and cliff (via drones, hanging cameramen, and remote cameras) from every angle, as Honnold attempts the nearly impossible (or at the very least) incredibly dangerous). No less fascinating is the glimpse of what drives Honnold, a man described even by his long-suffering girlfriend Sanni as “a weird dude”.

Arthur Agee is one of the future professional basketball players featured in Hoop Dreams.

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Arthur Agee is one of the future professional basketball players featured in Hoop Dreams.

Dreams of Hoops (DocPlay)

A ridiculously overlooked masterpiece for Best Documentary at the Oscars.

Steve James’ nearly three-hour 1994 film (drawn from eight years of hard work and 250 hours of raw footage) is the compelling and gripping story of two Chicago-based African-American high school students and their dreams of becoming professional basketball players.

Pelé was one of several top footballers recruited by the New York Cosmos in the 1970s.

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Pelé was one of several top footballers recruited by the New York Cosmos in the 1970s.

Once in a lifetime (DocPlay)

A simply breathtaking documentary from 2006 that chronicles the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos and the North American Football League.

Bringing together some of the best players in the world – Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff – thanks to millions provided by Warner Brothers President Steve Ross, the Cosmos has drawn record crowds for the sport in the United States. However, infighting and the lack of results on the ground caused everything to fall apart dramatically.

Ayrton Senna was one of the most incredible and fearless drivers Formula 1 had ever seen.

Pascal Rondeau / Getty Images

Ayrton Senna was one of the most incredible and fearless drivers Formula 1 had ever seen.

Senna (iTunes, GooglePlay)

Composed entirely of archival footage, some spectacular, others shocking, but all informative and captivating, the portrait of the Brazilian superstar produced by director Asif Kapadia in 2010 traces his rise to the lonely karter (thousands of kilometers from his family and friends) to the three-time world pilot champion.

Sports journalists, family members and Formula 1 associates remember him, but only in vocal form, and it’s mostly up to images of the 25-35 year olds to tell the real story.


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