With a history longer than movies, there are an abundance of stories that been made into documentaries, which made choosing the 5 best sports documentaries of all time a very difficult task. But there’s almost no denying that these five film stand above the rest.
- “Hoop Dreams” – Beginning with the life of two 14 year old boys, William Gates and Arthur Agee, the story is almost too real to be true. The film, written and directed by Steven James, features nearly every obstacle that many basketball players must face on their way to the top, including private school drama, drug use, and even a serious knee injury. The film is widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time, let alone one of the best sports documentaries of all time.
- “When We Were Kings” – Chronicling the legendary bout between George Foreman and Mohammed Ali, also known as “Rumble in the Jungle,” the Taylor Hackford directed film gives incredible insight into world of boxing and being black in the 1970’s. With two very different personality types, the spectacle of the Ali and Foreman fight finally comes to a head at the conclusion of the civil rights movement when tensions were still at an all-time high.
- “Beyond the Mat” – This Barry Blaustein directed sports documentary features many of the high-profile wrestlers of the 1990’s. The film touches on the life of being a professional wrestler, but the film earns its accolades for trying to legitimize the sport they are a part of. The wrestlers give a convincing argument that the sport is not fake and worthy of the merit of the attention other sports achieve, such as baseball or football.
- “Pumping Iron” – Featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, George Butler and Robert Fiore direct a wonderful sports documentary about the hopeful Mr. Olympia contestants. The film explores nearly every personal and professional angle you can imagine of a professional weightlifter. The premise may not be for everyone, but, with the ever growing backlash of performance enhancing drugs, the film has only grown more interesting over the years.
- “Murderball” – Perhaps the coolest name ever for a sport, murderball is essentially rugby played by paraplegics. Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro tells a fascinating story about the U.S. Murderball team and its captain. The drama is probably more than you think, but this film can certainly open your eyes to the athletic potential of paraplegics in sports.