Best sports documentaries

Contents

Here are the 9 best sports documentaries ever, in order of their Rotten Tomatoes score. They all have seeded torrents available so let the binge watching begin! Let us know in the comments if we missed any.

If you’re after something lighter then check out our recommendations for:

OJ Made in America

Rotten Tomatoes rating 100%

O.J. Simpson’s eventful life is laid out in this 5 part ESPN 30 for 30 series. From his rise in American football right through to his murder and robbery trials. Using interviews, news footage and archival video you learn about the rise and fall of one of America’s most controversial sportsmen.

This is a comprehensive and powerful series which will have you saying “just one more episode…” as it lays bare America’s struggles with race, class and gender. If you don’t have an opinion on O.J. Simpson yet, you will after this. There is also an excellent 10 part TV dramatization titled The People v. O. J. Simpson.

Salute

Rotten Tomatoes rating 100%

The image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos with black fists raised on the Olympic podium at Mexico ’68 is one of the most famous in sporting history. However the silver medal winner, Australian Peter Norman, is rarely mentioned. Salute tells the story from Norman’s point of view, how he supported Smith and Carlos and won the respect of the American civil right movement.

The story illustrates the tumultuous struggles of the time and how the athletes used their platform to promote equality and human rights. Linking in a thrilling 200m Olympic final.

Hoop Dreams

Rotten Tomatoes rating 98%

An epic 3 hour story, shot over 5 years, following 2 teenage basketball hopefuls from Chicago. Both aspire to be NBA stars, and this documentary displays the beautiful ups and the crushing lows on their journeys.

The film was originally supposed to be just 30-minutes, but a the producers ended up with a masterful long piece about an almighty struggle. Injuries, home and school problems, on-field heroics and failures – this really does have it all.

The Two Escobars

Rotten Tomatoes rating 97%

Andrés Escobar was brutally murdered after his own goal secured Colombia’s exit from the 1994 World Cup. This absorbing tale looks at the contributing political landscape, and the massive influence of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, “The Two Escobars” is a great watch with a wealth of archival footage adding depth to an episode which is hard to believe. Interviews with a number of the Colombian ’94 World Cup squad, and friends and family of Pablo Escobar give the documentary authenticity.

Senna

Rotten Tomatoes rating 95%

Regarded by many as the greatest driver ever, Ayrton Senna’s life was tragically cut short. This feature tells the story of a man who took his sport by storm using a wealth of interviews and footage from his career.

His intense rivalry with team mate Alain Prost is gripping, his title wins thrilling and the final moments before his crash in Imola are chilling. A film which can be enjoyed even if you’re not a motor racing fan.

Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team

Rotten Tomatoes rating 95%

The Seattle SuperSonics had a rich history in their city, before a controversial move to Oklahoma in 2008. We follow the story of a protracted legal battle to relocate the team, with scandalous lies from the Sonics’ owners on one side and a lot of anger from the city on the other.

Insiders Gary Payton, George Karl and Wally Walker tell their version of events, while multiple fans give a feel for how important their team was to them, their community and the city. The ruthless side of business and the NBA are on full display in this fantastic documentary.

Can you watch the full Sonicsgate film for free on YouTube.

The U

Rotten Tomatoes rating 85%

Miami Hurricanes’ rise and fall is wonderfully pieced together in this ESPN 30 for 30 show. A one-of-a-kind team, the ‘Canes delighted and disgusted fans around the nation. While they divided opinions off the field, they left no doubt about their on-field talent and created a football dynasty.

Anecdotes come from a raft of former players, managers, staff and of course rapper Luther Campbell. They discuss the crimes, media outrage, stories of illegal payments and their fantastic success on the gridiron.

Freedom's Fury

The 1956 Olympic water polo semi-final between Hungary and USSR was one of the bloodiest matches in the history of the games. Played among a backdrop of war between the 2 nations.

This documentary follows the journey of the great Hungarian water polo team, alongside the tragic and bloody Hungarian Revolution. Stories from players of both sides adds insight and depth to this moving feature.

Don’t let the underwhelming trailer put you off, executive producer Quentin Tarantino calls this “the best untold story ever”. The Hungarian film Children of Glory tells the same story and is well worth its 92% ratting at Rotten Tomatoes.

Hillsborough

The Hillsborough disaster is one of the greatest tragedies to take place in British soccer. But the pain and suffering of the families and friends of victims didn’t end there.

This chilling ESPN 30 for 30 and BBC co-production gives a range of eye witness reports and tales from people directly involved. It highlights the large police cover up that followed in a shameful event for British police and media. The 27-year battle for justice was long and arduous for Liverpool supporters, and this documentary sums it up poignantly from start to finish.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous

    There’s loads more from the ESPN 30 for 30 series that could have made it here too

  2. Martin

    What about “Diego Maradona” or “Tyson”? Both great documentaries on two troubled but brilliant sports stars

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