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The 16 Best Sports Documentaries to Watch on Netflix in 2020

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Netflix

It might have taken sports coming to a full stop for some of us to realize just how much they mean to us in our everyday lives. Whether you’re the kind who’s a sports fanatic and is fully invested in and dedicated to multiple sports just due to the aspect of competition or you’re an extremely casual viewer, there’s a particular value in sports that’s easy to appreciate. They bring out the best in many and evoke raw human emotion.

 

Some of the best sports documentaries capture these emotions, encapsulating them for our viewing pleasure. At a time where normality in sports feels a long way away, we made an alphabetical list of the 16 best sports documentaries that are available on Netflix. Check them out below.

1. ‘Barça Dreams’

Barça Dreams is a deep dive into the history of one of the greatest soccer clubs in the world. The documentary takes us through their inception, all the way up until today, the era of Lionel Messi. It’s a great watch for those getting into the sport and even if Barcelona isn’t your club, they’re to be respected and this documentary will help you with that. It’s a good base understanding of the team.

2. ‘First Team: Juventus’

This offering gives us a new look at Italian soccer giants Juventus at numerous points throughout their 2017/2018 season. As well as documenting them on the pitch, it follows them off of it; in the locker room, on the road, and even at home. While it’s not necessarily a deep dive into the intricacies of the game or their lives, it is an interesting watch for Juventus fans and does a good job of humanizing soccer stars in general.

3. ‘Icarus’

Without a doubt one of the most famous sports documentaries of all time, Icarus does a deep dive into the Russian Olympic doping program. It’s a documentary that has all the makings of an incredible movie. Watching this is a special experience because it will change the way you perceive sports as a whole. To top it off, it managed to win Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars in 2018.

4. ‘Ice Guardians’

A documentary about ice hockey enforcers and their role might not sound like the most appealing thing in the world, especially for those who don’t follow the sport, but avid documentary watchers know that those more niche topics often make for the best stories. Ice Guardians details fighting in the NHL, giving it a new perspective and potentially changing minds on what is somewhat of a tradition.

5. ‘Last Chance U’

Last Chance U is an episodic docu-series that follows East Mississippi Community College’s football program, exploring the players’ struggles both in and out of the game and school. Players must perform at the junior college level to try to get back to Division I and eventually make it out of their small town of Scooba. As the best documentaries do, it makes for a genuinely riveting tale and replicates the drama of your favorite movies.

6. ‘Losers’

Across its eight episodes, Losers looks at eight different people from eight different sports who did not manage to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Golf, soccer, boxing, and even figure skating runner ups come into play here. This one is great because while athletes’ success drives us, failure in some way, shape, or form is relatable to us all. We lose out more often than we win, making this docu-series hit home harder than we’d like it to.

7. ‘Maradona In Mexico’

Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, you might know Diego Maradona as the greatest of all time. But what people aren’t so familiar with is his history of managing teams. The Argentinian has been in charge of eight different sides since 1994, one of the more recent ones being Mexican club Dorados de Sinaloa. Maradona In Mexico is a captivating look at his time with the team, ups, downs, and all.

8. ‘Senna’

Senna from 2010 is looking at Ayrton Senna, arguably the best and most iconic Formula One driver to have ever lived. Much like many of the documentaries on this list, Senna transcends the sport itself and is just as much a piece on the man himself. It also dives into his rivalry with Alain Prost, which was different on the track than it was off of it. Even if you’re not an F1 fan, you can appreciate this one the same way.

9. ‘Team Foxcatcher’

John Greenhalgh’s Team Foxcatcher documentary tells the story of John E. du Pont and Dave Schultz. The former was a massive help to USA’s Olympic Wrestling Team because he was a billionaire who built training facilities on his own property, allowing them to train there. The latter was the most gifted wrestler at the time. The story is tragic, answering some questions only to raise others that we may never have answers for.

10. ‘The Battered Bastards Of Baseball’

The Portland Mavericks were an independent minor league baseball team based out of Portland, Oregon who was active from 1973 to 1977. The Battered Bastards Of Baseball, the title is taken from a Jim Bouton quote, is the tale of their time and truly highlights their insistence on straying from the pack. At the time, they were the only independent baseball team in America and it came across both in their spirit and this film.

11. ‘The Carter Effect’

The Toronto Raptors had a long, hard road to winning a ring and proving to doubters that they could be formidable in the later stages of the playoffs, but that’s exactly what they did in the 2018/2019 season. To be able to fully appreciate what the championship meant to not only the city of Toronto but Canada, you have to take a look back at their history in the league which began back in 1995 and know the story of one of the greatest Raptors of all time, Vince Carter. The Carter Effect takes us through it all.

12. ‘The Dawn Wall’

Released in 2018, Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer helped tell the story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, two American rock climbers who attempted the impossible; a climb of The Dawn Wall, a steep 3,000-foot rock face in California. Of course, the literal climb is a metaphor for so much more for both men. If you’ve seen and enjoyed Man On Wire, this is right up your alley.

13. ‘The Game Changers’

Plant-based diets have been a craze for a while now, but The Game Changers is an in-depth look at how they benefit both regular people and athletes. Former UFC welterweight James Wilks does the research here, traveling the world to talk to elite athletes who have personal experiences with plant-based diets. You might know that there’s been some debate about the arguments made in this documentary by Joe Rogan, who initially disagreed with some claims but later had his mind changed.

14. ‘The Last Dance’

Those ones for those who are watching internationally. Netflix and ESPN produced this documentary together. For both those who got to watch Michael Jordan play and those that have only heard about it, The Last Dance has been an incredible watch. With input from Jordan and his peers, it gives us a look behind the scenes at some key moments in his life and career like Be Like Mike, his supposed gambling addiction and the death of his father, all with never before seen footage. This is a must-see for all basketball fans.

15. ‘The Short Game’

Produced by star couple Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, The Short Game is a look at eight entrants in the 2012 U.S. Kids Golf Championships. The participants were just seven and eight-years-old, making for a unique look into a competitive tournament. The parent-child dynamic is also in play here, with viewers naturally split down the middle about some of the decisions made. At the end of the day, this shows that competition can drive just about anyone.

16. ‘Undefeated’

Undefeated is an inspiring, feel-good look at the Manassas Tigers high school football team from Memphis. It takes us through their struggles to win a season after consecutive losses. It’s by no means a new story in sports, the team trying to defy the odds, but seeing it at the high school level does give it a unique spin. Undefeated won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2012.

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