Top five sports documentaries you must watch on Netflix

Have you ever wondered why sports documentaries are so engaging? It’s because sports is more than the result, it’s more than winners or losers, it’s more than politics, drama and fans. Sports documentaries encompass all these aspects and more. It captures emotions, untold stories, interpersonal relationships, overcoming adversity and everything that’s on stake. It’s all about the journey, it brings fans closer to their idols and portrays a humane figure behind all the glitz, glamour and money. It scratches beneath the image of iconic sports stars to showcase that even the best of the best suffer from self doubt and fear of failure. 

If the game itself is the tip of the iceberg, a sports documentary is all the ice hidden from view that is finally showcased to the wider world. Here are our top five picks of sports documentaries that you should stream on Netflix. 

the-last-dance-1 Top five sports documentaries you must watch on Netflix

The Last Dance

A 10 part documentary about the 1990’s Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance gives rare insight to the life of arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. The documentary explores his journey from Jordan’s rookie years to the height of superstardom, his ultra competitiveness and the complex relationship between the man himself, his sidekick Scottie Pipin, general manager Jerry Krause and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf. ‘The Last Dance’ is a name given by former coach Phil Jackson when the Chicago Bulls attempted to win their sixth NBA Championship in 1997-1998. This sports documentary is a must watch for not just basketball fans but for anyone who enjoys sports.

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Senna (2011)

Directed by Asif Kapadia, Ayrton Senna was a three time Formula One racing champion before his untimely death at the age of 34 in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Senna’s documentary was released in 2010 and captures his career right from his debut at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix to a decade later and sheds some light on his rivalry with Alain Prost. It features a ton of emotional footage provided by Senna’s family, especially when Senna speaks about the sport’s safety when fellow Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger loses his life a day before Senna tragically suffers the same fate. The documentary has won numerous awards, winning a BAFTA for the best documentary and editing and the Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America among many others.

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Diego Maradona (2019)

Diego Maradona is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the sport. The talented Argentinian’s life was far from straightforward, with allegations of cheating, drug use and infidelity that surrounded Maradona throughout his career. This 2019 British documentary gives a rare insight of Maradona’s life and achievements with carefully compiled archival footage from various sources. Asif Kapadia’s handiwork has shone through this documentary which was first featured in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

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Icarus (2017)

Icarus is an insightful documentary that delves into the world of illegal doping in sports. Directed by Bryan Fogel, Icarus starts off with Fogel exploring the option of using performance enhancing drugs to win an amateur cycling competition, leading to developing a connection with Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov which opens the door to an even bigger scandal, Russia’s state sponsored Olympic doping program.

The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.

the-dawn-wall Top five sports documentaries you must watch on Netflix

The Dawn Wall (2017)

History was made in 2015 when daredevil climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson free climbed the legendary Dawn Wall section of El Capitan, a 3000 foot granite rock formation in Yosemite National Park. What makes this documentary so special is that it gives the viewer a feeling of being right there, amidst all the action, drama and sheer athleticism. Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, the co-directors of the documentary are climbers themselves and have done a fantastic job to capture their 19 days climb on an unforgiving piece of rock.

It perfectly encapsulates some essential human qualities such as patience, perseverance, resilience and the bravery to follow your dreams. It’s a beautiful representation of defying all odds to achieve the impossible and the documentary does a great job capturing all these emotions.


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