With coverage of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics launching tonight stateside on NBC with tonight's opening ceremony, we've compiled a list of ten great sports documentaries available to stream online for those living in the US. The titles, that span a wide variety of sports from basketball to race car driving, are listed below in alphabetical order.
"A Fighting Chance"
In this inspiring documentary, 23-year-old Kyle Maynard, born without arms or legs, takes on the shocking mission of becoming a Mixed Martial Arts winner by fighting against an able-bodied fighter, while taking on the egregious challenge of defending himself off the mat against all those who see him as nothing more than a disabled body.
The saying goes "too much money, ain't enough money." That phrase is true for many professional athletes who find their financial situations to be dire once they retire. "Broke" canvases the lives of several former athletes who simply do not have the financial means to justify a lifestyle they can no longer live. According to a Sport's Illustrated study, 60% of NBA players are financially unstable within five years of retirement. The documentary delves into the problem of readjusting to a life of normalcy, coupled with the acknowledgement of the inevitability of time. Watch on Netflix here.
"The Fab Five"
The University of Michigan Men's Basketball Team. Five freshman. All heralded. All starters. Back to back defeats in the NCAA Division 1 Championship Game. Chris Webber's generation changing time out. Often called "the greatest recruiting class of all time," this is the story of The Fab Five. Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, and Juwan Howard, took the world of basketball by storm, upsetting the game's purists with their baggy shorts and black socks that are now synonymous with the game as it's known today. If there was ever a moment that could be pointed to that changed a sport's trajectory, these five freshman and their crusade on the game is most definitely a catalyst. Watch on Netflix here.
Steve James, director of the acclaimed "Hoop Dreams" (which also tops this list), directs "Head Games," a documentary film based on the Christopher Nowinski book that exposes the effects of concussions and head trauma on athletes. The film mainly focuses on American football and hockey, but also explores the head damage that can be caused by soccer, boxing, lacrosse and wrestling.
So many superlatives have been thrown at Steve James's 1994 documentary, but none of them feel unearned. "Hoop Dreams" follows Chicago teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee as they enroll in a primarily white private high school with an excellent basketball program. From high school to college, they deal with injuries, massive racial and economic inequalities, and the hard truth that for every talented athlete who makes it in the NBA, there's a dozen whose hopes remain unfulfilled, their passions stifled. The film was infamously ignored by the Academy Awards in the Best Documentary category (though it did receive a Best Editing nomination), but it remains one of the defining films about race, class and the American Dream, and the high water mark for sports docs.