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16th Apr 2017

7 of the best sporting documentaries on Netflix right now

Plenty for fans of all sports to enjoy

Conor Heneghan

Plenty in there for fans of all sports to enjoy.

Following the acclaim generated by Les Bleus – Une autre histoire de France, 1996-2016 after it was released on Netflix recently, we decided to have a look at some of the other sporting offerings on the streaming service.

Before you get too angry about the documentaries left out of the list below, bear in mind that only those seen by your humble author have been considered and that any and all suggestions for future viewing are more than welcome.

In no particular order then…

Trophy Kids

Parental influence on the careers of budding athletes can have a positive effect, but Trophy Kids looks at the extraordinary – and sometimes detrimental – lengths that some fathers and mothers in the US will go to in an attempt to maximise the chances their sons and daughters have of making a career in professional sports.

It’s fascinating to watch, but also disturbing in some instances and one can’t help but have huge sympathy towards the talented youngsters profiled in the 2013 documentary.

Clip via Mance Media

The Last Gladiators

The role of the enforcer, or ‘goon’, in ice-hockey isn’t as prominent as it once was, but there was a time when every team had one and they had to pit themselves against each other physically every time they took to the ice.

The lasting and unfortunate implications for those who played the role are examined in The Last Gladiators, with a particular emphasis on the effects it had on Chris Nilan, formerly of the Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.

Clip via Phase 4 Films

Hoop Dreams

An essential inclusion in any list of the best sporting documentaries ever made, Hoop Dreams tells the tale of two African-American teenagers from poor neighbourhoods who dream of making it big in the NBA.

It’s not just about basketball, but about race, class, diversity and much more, all of which it manages to fit in to a compelling three hours.

Clip via ro*co films

Last Chance U

A six-part documentary series on Netflix, Last Chance U examines life at East Mississippi Community College, where troubled but talented youngsters are given the opportunity to star for the football team and prove that they have what it takes to go to the top

Fans of the series will be glad to know that Season 2 is in the works.

Clip via Netflix US & Canada


Easily one of the most interesting characters ever to play in the NBA, Allan Iverson’s life has been one full of controversy, interspersed with some sublime moments on the court.

A more wide-ranging effort than No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, the 30 for 30 documentary about an incident in Virginia for which a teenage Iverson was sentenced to 15 years in prison and subsequently had his sentence reduced to four months, Iverson brilliantly recounts the turbulent career of the 11-time NBA All-Star.

Clip via IversonTheMovie

Stop at Nothing

Lance Armstrong’s high-profile exposure as one of the biggest drug cheats in the history of sport has been the subject of plenty of movie and TV productions and this BBC 4 documentary is as good as any of them.

With contributions from some of Armstrong’s former colleagues and contemporaries (Frankie and Betsy Andreu, Johan Bruyneel, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis), major players in the world of cycling (Greg LeMond, Paul Kimmage, David Walsh) and one of the main men responsible for bringing him down (USADA CEO Travis Tygart), it provides a deep and fascinating insight into one of the biggest falls from grace in sporting history.

Clip via ABC Commercial

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Kurt Russell is well-known as the star of iconic movies such as Escape from L.A. and Big Trouble in Little China; he’s not as well-known for playing for a minor league baseball team in the 1970s.

That team, the Portland Mavericks, is the subject of a delightful 2014 documentary inspired by Russell’s father, the actor Bing Russell, a huge baseball fan (and former New York Yankees mascot), who made the Mavericks into a much-loved independent outfit in the mid-1970s.

Beautifully told, incredibly charming and full of great anecdotes, you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it.

Clip via Netflix US & Canada