Sidney Crosby has quite a potty mouth.
January 10, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

What is your favorite behind-the-scenes sports documentary?

Last night I watched part of HBO's 24/7 Winter Classic and I loved it. I really enjoyed the team meetings, the players with mics on the ice, the amazing cinematography, the whole shebang.

What are some other sports documentaries that are worth checking out? Hockey and baseball preferred, although anything except pro basketball will work. Thanks.
posted by elder18 to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

A friend and I have been watching ESPN's 30 for 30; at first I was a bit skeptical it would be an ESPN love fest, but none of the ones I've seen so far even mention the network, they are all just well produced documentaries that happen to be about sports and sports topics. Some are very depressing (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek) and other's are down right hilarious (Winning Time, sorry its an NBA one). Either way I'm not a huge ESPN fan but these have been very entertaining.
posted by Scientifik at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two roller derby ones for you:

Blood on the Flat Track follows the Rat City Rollergirls (Seattle's flat-track roller derby league) and Hell on Wheels concentrates on Austin, Texas, where the modern-day revival began.
posted by Lucinda at 9:13 AM on January 10, 2011

posted by the cuban at 9:17 AM on January 10, 2011

The Hard Knocks series is a really great look at the dynamics of an NFL training camp. It's not just focused on the stars, but they provide great perspective into the people who are really trying to get onto the team and may not. In some ways, it's less about sports and it's just a really great workplace documentary. I don't know what the general availability of this is (whether it's on DVD or not), but NFL Network tends to re-run old seasons during the football offseason. (It is also produced by HBO so I believe it closely resembles the Winter Classic series, though I haven't watched that one.)

Also seconding the recommendation of the 30 for 30 series from ESPN. I believe the first batch is now available on DVD. I've watched about six of the documentaries and they were all incredibly well done. I don't think you can go wrong by watching whatever episodes suit your interests.
posted by tommccabe at 9:21 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stars and Watercarriers, The Impossible Hour. Can't believe someone already recommended A Sunday in Hell, that's why I like this place.
posted by fixedgear at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2011

When We Were Kings: "A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali."

Very well done.
posted by inigo2 at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Part of the 30 for 30 series: The Two Escobars, a documentary about the 1994 Colombian World Cup team and the country that produced it. Heartbreaking, fascinating and really well done.
posted by msali at 10:43 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by cuando at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

The entire 30 for 30 series from ESPN is great. I particularly liked Winning Time.

Of course, Hoop Dreams is among the pantheon.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 AM on January 10, 2011

The Smashing Machine is a great flick about one MMA fighter during the beginning of the huge popularity boom the sport had in the 2000's.
posted by anti social order at 1:12 PM on January 10, 2011

How about books that cover the same territory? Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings, about the 1982 (?) Milwaukee Brewers, is really great. A similar book that violates your exemption for pro basketball (which is the best sport, actually) is Jack McCallum's Seven Seconds or Less, about the Phoenix Suns' 2005-06 season.
posted by mullacc at 1:55 PM on January 10, 2011

Boxing Gym isn't about professional boxing but I highly recommend it.

The Tillman Story also isn't as much about professional football as it is Pat Tillman but it is also pretty good.

The Game of Their Lives (2002) follows the 1966 North Korean World Cup team. The small English town they stay in kind of adopted them as their own which was neat to see.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen traces the rise and fall of professional bowling.
posted by minimal at 2:11 PM on January 10, 2011

Murderball, about the US men's wheelchair rugby team, has been repeatedly recommended to me as the pinnacle of the genre.

I've never watched it, though I keep meaning to...
posted by corvine at 2:48 PM on January 10, 2011

I am seconding Hard Knocks series and also 30 for 30. I recently watched 2 Days in April and thought it was very revealing.
posted by Cainaan777 at 8:24 PM on January 10, 2011

Sorry! 2 Days in April
posted by Cainaan777 at 8:37 PM on January 10, 2011

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