As we find ourselves heading into another weekend in lock down that will consist of plenty us sitting down endlessly scrolling around our favourite streaming and content platforms. Many of us by now have been to the deepest corners of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Disney+ etc. So here is a little guide for all you sports fans out there on some easily accessible sports films and documentaries. We will be sticking to more underrated hidden gems but will stick some more well-known recommendations in as honourable mentions too. You will also find a big variety of sports so hopefully everyone who gives this a read might find something that will grab their interest for the spare time ahead. So, sit back, relax, stick the feet up, get the popcorn ready and grab a can because there is plenty of recommendations ahead.
Football – Mike Basset: England Manager (YouTube)
Something Similar – Sunderland ‘Til I Die (Netflix) (Documentary Series), Gascoigne (Netflix)(Documentary), Bobby Robson: More than a Manager (Amazon)(Documentary), Summer of 92 (Netflix)(Drama) & Green Street (Netflix)(Crime)
Mike Basset: England Manager is a British comedy and mockumentary in the same ilk of the popular TV show the Office. The film follows football manager Mike Basset who is played by Ricky Tomlinson who would be known better for his role as Jim in the Royle Family. Basset is appointed England manager after guiding his lower league side Norwich City to a famous cup final victory. Basset is quickly found out to be grossly out of his depth in the role by some of the hilarious decisions and mistakes he makes. The film doesn’t have much of on field action but the behind the scenes events certainly make up for this in very funny fashion. It also stars the likes of Amanda Redman, Bradley Walsh, Philip Jackson, Geoff Bell and Martin Bashir. Along with cameos from the likes of Pele, Ronaldo, Atomic Kitten and Martin Tyler. It is very digestible with a run time of just 90 minutes how nice for a film about football.
American Football – Brian Banks (Netflix)
Something Similar – Last Chance U (Documentary Series) (Netflix), Remember the Titans (Drama)(Disney+), QB1: Beyond the lights (Documentary Series)(Netflix), Rudy (Drama)(Amazon) & Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (Documentary Series)(Netflix)
Brian Banks is a biographical drama based off the real-life story of Brian Banks. Banks who was a standout football player at high school level had his dreams taking away from him. He was falsely accused of rape by classmate Wanetta Gibson and spent six years in prison and five years on parole. His conviction was overturned in 2012 after Gibson confused, she made it up. After his release Banks attempts to fulfil his dream of playing in the NFL. The excellent film stars the like of Aldis Hodge, Melanie Liburd, Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear and Dorian Missick and has a run time of 99 minutes.
Basketball – The Last Dance (Netflix)
Something Similar – Space Jam (Family)(Netflix), Coach Carter (Drama)(Netflix), Semi Pro (Comedy)(Amazon), The Carter Effect (Documentary)(Netflix) & One in a Billion (Documentary)(Netflix)
I know The Last Dance certainly can’t be considered a hidden gem due to its massive success upon its release. Its included here simply because of how accessible it is. You don’t need to even be a fan of basketball to start watching this documentary series. The series follows the Chicago Bulls as they look to win another NBA title during their 1997/98 season. The series shines a light on the stars of the team especially Michael Jordan but also Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, coach Phil Jackson and GM Jerry Krause amongst others. It also gets the perspective of rivals and NBA legends throughout the years. The series has interviews and actual never seen all access footage from on and off the court. The gives the viewer a first-hand look at the sacrifice, brotherhood, rivalry, backstabbing and politics that go into been a high-level athlete.
Professional Wrestling – Beyond the Mat (YouTube)
Something Similar – Dark Side of the Ring (Documentary Series) (YouTube), The British Wrestler (Documentary)(YouTube), Fighting with My Family (Biographical)(Netflix), Wrestling with Shadows (Documentary)(YouTube) & Nobody Speaks (Documentary)(Netflix)
Beyond the Mat is a documentary focused on the lives of professional wrestlers away from the ring. The film focuses on famous faces like Mick Foley, Terry Funk and Jake Roberts and the trials and tragedies they were facing at the time. It also looks at up and coming wrestlers and what they go through to get a chance in the wrestling business. It’s an interesting look into companies like WWE and the then popular ECW and how they operate. Its also excellent viewing for people who just see wrestling as fake. It really brings across what these people go through physically and mentally for our entertained. It’s a harrowing watch for fans and non-fans of wrestling.
Boxing – Katie (Netflix)
Something Similar – The Fighter (Drama)(Netflix), Mike Tyson: Fallen Champ (Documentary)(YouTube), Bleed for This (Drama)(Netflix), Ali (Drama)(YouTube) & Southpaw (Drama)(Amazon)
Katie is a documentary about one of the best athletes in Irish history boxer Katie Taylor. She done it all at amateur level winning Olympic gold, going a decade unbeaten and winning plenty of Irish titles. The documentary is about Katie coming back to rebuild her career after a personal loss close to her. It’s a very personal and intimate look into the personal life of a private and hugely well-respected boxer. It really gives you a different look and perspective on Katie once the credits roll and at just under an hour and a half long it’s a great watch for any fans of the boxer from Bray.
Baseball – The Battered Bastards of Baseball (Netflix)
Something Similar – The Rookie (Family)(Disney+), Screwball (Documentary)(Netflix), Moneyball (Drama)(Netflix), Million Dollar Arm (Drama)(Disney+) & Knuckleball (Documentary)(Netflix)
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a documentary about the independent and gritty baseball team the Portland Mavericks who are a now defunct team from minor league baseball. The team was owned by actor Bing Russell and unlike almost every other minor team they had no affiliation to a team in the MLB. It follows the real-life underdogs throughout their life in the 70s and the hard-working nature of an independent team. The documentary has appearances from former players and staff. Along with actor Kurt Russell son of owner Bing Russell as Kurt played for the Mavericks and was vice president at one time.
Winter Sports – Cool Runnings (Disney+)
Something Similar – The Mighty Ducks (Family)(Disney+), I Tonya (Drama)(Netflix), Eddie the Eagle (Comedy)(Netflix), Blades of Glory (Comedy)(Netflix) & The Goon (Comedy)(Netflix)
Another choice that isn’t a hidden gem but if an opportunity presents itself to watch Cool Runnings again you should always take it. For the rare people that have never seen this classic it’s a comedy film loosely based around the real debut of the Jamaican men’s bobsleigh team during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Its packed with laughs for adults and kids due to its premise. It also has a great story to tell about acceptance, hard work, teamwork and the basics on bobsleighing for those looking to get into that sort of thing. It stars the likes of John Candy, Doug E. Doug, Leon Robinson Malik Yoba and Rawle D. Lewis in the lead roles. It can’t be recommended enough for a lazy afternoon.
MMA – Team Foxcatcher (Netflix)
Something Similar – Warrior (Drama)(Netflix), Through My Fathers Eyes: The Ronda Rousey Story (Biographic)(Netflix), Conor McGregor: Notorious (Documentary)(YouTube), BloodSport (Action)(Amazon) & First Match (Drama)(Netflix)
This isn’t the popular movie Foxcatcher it’s the documentary based off the same story. It’s about the impact that billionaire John E. du Pont had on the USA Olympic Wrestling team when he built them a training facility and housing on his property. It really focuses on the peculiar nature of du Pont and his obsession with the sport of wrestling. It also looks at the wrestling team he built Team Foxcatcher and the Olympic hopefuls that make up the team. It particularly looks a highly successful wrestler Dave Schultz who was a coach for Team Foxcatcher along with his younger brother Mark an active wrestler at the time. It contains inside information and interviews about the team and hostile relationships within it. The family life of Dave makes up a lot of the story. As he moves his family to the facility to take up his role with disastrous and shocking results that anyone unfamiliar with the story will never see coming.
Racing – Rush (Netflix)
Something Similar – Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story (Documentary)(Netflix), Senna (Documentary)(Amazon), Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Documentary Series)(Netflix), A Life of Speed (Documentary)(Netflix) & The 24 Hour War (Documentary)(Netflix)
Rush is a criminally underrated yet well received film in the sports movie genre. It’s about the famous and real-life rivalry between English formula 1 driver James Hunt and Austrian driver Niki Lauda. The focus of the film is set during the dramatic 1976 Formula 1 season as Hunt looks to take the championship title off his bitter rival Lauda. It contains some fantastic white-knuckle driving sequences along with a inside look that touches on one of the most famous rivalries in sporting history and the crazy distances it takes these two men. It stars the likes of Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda along with Olivia Wilde, Natalie Dormer, Christian McKay, Stephen Mangan and Alexandra Maria Lara.
Other Sports to Cover More Basis
The Short Game – Golf (Documentary)(Netflix)
Resurfaced – Surfing (Documentary)(Netflix)
Bones Brigade – Skate Boarding (Documentary)(Amazon)
Icarus – Cycling (Documentary)(Netflix)
Beyond All Boundaries – Cricket (Bollywood)(Netflix)
Little Miss Sumo – Sumo Wrestling (Biographic)(Netflix)
The Barkley Marathons – Marathons (Documentary)(Netflix)
Eddie Strongman – Weightlifting (Biographic)(Netflix)
Lucha – Field Hockey (Biographic)(Netflix)
The Redeemed and The Dominant – CrossFit (Documentary)(Netflix)