The 25 Best Sports Documentaries

The term "sports" is very loosely understood. Basically, it is a documentary about anything that could air on ESPN or get coverage in Sports Illustrated.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Hoop Dreams (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. (170 mins.)
Director: Steve James
 
2.
Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin. (121 mins.)
 
3.
Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty (1938 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin, orchestrated as Nazi propaganda. (96 mins.)
 
4.
Baseball (1994 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  
A documentary on the history of the sport with major topics including Afro-American players, player/team owner relations and the resilience of the game. (1140 mins.)
 
5.
Tokyo Olympiad (1965 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Ichikawa's cameras follow the 1964 Summer Olympics from opening to closing ceremonies. Sometimes he focuses on spectators... (170 mins.)
Director: Kon Ichikawa
 
6.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Die-hard gamers compete to break world records on classic arcade games. (79 mins.)
Director: Seth Gordon
 
7.
When We Were Kings (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali. (88 mins.)
Director: Leon Gast
 
8.
Murderball (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Paraplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. (88 mins.)
 
9.
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The life and career of Hank Greenberg, the first major Jewish baseball star in the Major Leagues. (90 mins.)
Director: Aviva Kempner
 
10.
Touching the Void (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. (106 mins.)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
 
11.
One Day in September (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich. (94 mins.)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
 
12.
Bigger Stronger Faster* (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An examination of America's win-at-all-cost culture from the perspective of bodybuilding and performance enhancing drugs, as it focuses on a pair of siblings chasing their dream. (105 mins.)
Director: Chris Bell
 
13.
Spellbound (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. (97 mins.)
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
 
14.
The Endless Summer (1966 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The crown jewel to ten years of Bruce Brown surfing documentaries. Brown follows two young surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave, and ends up finding quite a few in addition to some colorful local characters. (95 mins.)
Director: Bruce Brown
 
15.
Pumping Iron (1977 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
From Gold's Gym in Venice Beach California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr... (85 mins.)
 
16.
Beyond the Mat (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A heartfelt documentary focusing on the lives of professional wrestlers and how their sport is not fake. (102 mins.)
 
17.
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team. (91 mins.)
Director: Stacy Peralta
 
18.
Riding Giants (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Documentary detailing the origins and history of surf culture. (105 mins.)
Director: Stacy Peralta
 
19.
Tyson (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A mixture of original interviews and archival footage and photographs sheds light on the life experiences of Mike Tyson. (90 mins.)
Director: James Toback
 
20.
Step Into Liquid (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Surfers and secret spots from around the world are profiled in this documentary. (87 mins.)
Director: Dana Brown
 
21.
More Than a Game (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
This documentary follows NBA superstar LeBron James and four of his talented teammates through the trials and tribulations of high school basketball in Ohio and James' journey to fame. (105 mins.)
 
22.
A State of Mind (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A British documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance. (94 mins.)
Director: Daniel Gordon
 
23.
Go Tigers! (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
"Go Tigers!" is a rare behind-the-scenes chronicling of a remarkable season for the Massillon Tigers high school football team... (103 mins.)
 
24.
Senna (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. (106 mins.)
Director: Asif Kapadia
 
25.
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Filmmaker Christopher Browne documents the mission of a group of middle-aged bowlers as they attempt to revitalize the sport and get the television-watching public interested in it again. (93 mins.)
 
26.
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight boxing champion. (214 mins.)
Director: Ken Burns