By Zach Goins
March 7, 2019
Do you hear that rumble off in the distance? It sounds like thousands of people rejoicing after a last-second buzzer beater. It can only mean one thing: March Madness is right around the corner.
Soon enough “One Shining Moment” will be blaring from every direction, brackets will be filled out, edited, re-edited and busted, and lots and lots of hearts will be ripped out of the chests of fans across the country.
If there’s one thing that’s certain about March, it’s the drama that accompanies it. There’s just something about relishing a miraculous victory and suffering through a brutal defeat. But, for everyone who can’t wait for the tournaments to tip off, there’s plenty of sports drama waiting to be streamed on Netflix. Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting screwed by scalpers to enjoy these games.
At just 17 years old, Pelé led the nation of Brazil to its first-ever World Cup title, and along the way, became one of the most iconic figures the beautiful game has ever seen. But how did the youth phenom make it from the slums of São Paulo to one of the sport’s biggest name? This biographical drama chronicles the prodigy’s spectacular rise to superstardom.
Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson, but this biopic really brings to life the racism and hate he faced both on and off the field. This film really served as the catapult to get Chadwick Boseman to his current superstar status. At this point, what can’t Boseman do? He’s played the Black Panther, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson. The man is a legend.
High Flying Bird
After breaking out in Season Two of American Vandal, Netflix knew Melvin Gregg had serious star power. So, naturally, the streaming site made him the lead in its next big movie, as an NBA rookie forced to make a difficult decision when the league goes into a lockout. Throw in André Holland, Zazie Beetz and Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh and it’s easy to see why this one’s sitting at a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
There’s a reason this film took home Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars last year – it’s absolutely wild. What began as director Bryan Fogel trying to settle his own curiosity quickly turned into him uncovering the greatest doping scandal in sports history, as a Russian scientist reveals to him the country’s systemic, government-sponsored doping ploy. Filled with cheating, murder and endless twists, Icarus reveals a shockingly dark side of sports.
He was one of the NBA’s most electric players, both on and off the court. From his high school arrest to his unconventional outfits and colorful press conferences, there’s nothing Allen Iverson could do without constantly being underneath the microscope. Experience the highs and lows of one of the league’s most audacious players, and hear it straight from the source.
Mark Wahlberg. Christian Bale. Amy Adams. Need I say more? Boxing is a family affair for the Ward family, but after Micky (Wahlberg) suffers an embarrassing defeat, he loses his confidence and tries to call it quits. This real life story follows Micky and his family as he attempts to make one last comeback and finally get his big break.
Think about every cliched obstacle you’ve ever seen an athlete face in a sports movie: getting arrested, losing a loved one, failing classes. But this isn’t a fictional drama – it’s real life for the players on the Manassas Tigers of Memphis, an inner-city high school football team. This Oscar-winning documentary follows head coach Bill Courtney as he tries to lead the team to its first-ever playoff appearance.
Billy “The Great” Hope is a champion boxer with a loving wife and daughter. What more could he ask for? After retiring from the sport to spend more time with his family, an altercation with another boxer leads to the tragic death of his wife and sends Billy spiraling. His career is over, his wife is gone and his daughter is taken away by child protective services, but Billy is a fighter and won’t stop until he’s back on top.
If you’ve seen Foxcatcher, the Steve Carell and Channing Tatum-led dramatization, why not check out the documentary to learn the truth behind John du Pont’s extravagant Olympic wrestling program? With never-before-seen home video footage, get the inside look at how du Pont’s self-destructive behavior led to the death of one of the wrestlers.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! If you’re in need of a heavy dose of patriotism, check out Disney’s retelling of arguably the biggest upset in Olympic history. Kurt Russell stars as U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks, who puts together a ragtag team of rookies to face off against the unstoppable Russian juggernaut at the 1980 Winter Olympics. This one is guaranteed to have you jacked up and ready to belt out the national anthem at the top of your lungs.
After growing up without a family, Mo, a teenager in Brooklyn decides to use wrestling to try and reconnect with her estranged ex-convict father. As the only girl on the high school team, Mo already faces enough trouble, but once her father gets her involved in underground fighting too, it starts to affect her performance on the mat. First Match is an interesting and unconventional look at a father-daughter relationship and sports as a whole.
Conor McGregor: Notorious
You’ve seen him in the ring. You’ve seen him showboating at weigh-ins. But do you know how Conor McGregor got to the top of the combat sports world? Notorious covers a four-year span of McGregor’s personal and professional life, from living with his mother to becoming one of the biggest names in sports. Witness one of the sports world’s quickest and most dramatic rags to riches stories.
If you ever want to feel ridiculously scrawny, this is the documentary for you. Every year Arnold Schwarzenegger’s powerlifting competition, the Arnold Strongman Classic, names one competitor the world’s strongest man, and this time, four 400-plus pound giants are duking it out for the title. There’s the veteran, the defending champ, the promising newcomer and The Mountain (of Game of Thrones fame) but only one can take the crown.
Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness
You’ve heard your neighbor, that mom in the carpool line and your co-workers all talk about their obsession with CrossFit, but they’re nothing like these people. What does it take to be named the Fittest Person on Earth? When and how did CrossFit become so popular? Take a look at how these competitors prepare for the CrossFit Games, how it all goes down once the games begin, and what it is that makes this sport so addicting.
Looking for something quick to watch? This Netflix original documentary short tells the story of Zion Clark, a boy born without legs who’s struggling to figure out who he really is. But once Zion joins the high school wrestling team, he starts to feel like he finally belongs. At just 11 minutes, this short will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, and wishing it was longer.
The Battered Bastard of Baseball
Ever wondered what it’d be life if regular people played professional sports? Well, this doc tells the story of the people who went out and actually did it. When Hollywood legend Bing Russell founded the Portland Mavericks, America’s only independent baseball team, the professional sports world didn’t know how to react. It’s a story so outrageous, you still might not believe it even after watching this one.