The best sport documentaries of all time and their impact

Millions of people around the world are fascinated with sports, whether it be playing, watching, reading or talking about them, we just can’t seem to get enough. Luckily these days there is no shortage of events to enjoy, and even on the rare occasion where there are no live matches to watch there are now thousands of documentaries for fans to explore.

There are plenty for spectators of all sports to witness and gain a greater insight into their favourite athletes and their motivations. This understanding can help one make better predictions and enable one to understand sporting results better by being able to draw on this additional context. For example, Manchester City’s 2018 “All or Nothing” documentary series gave fans a fly on the wall look at the hard work that goes into becoming one of the most successful football clubs on earth.

They are currently favourites to win the Premier League according to the football experts at oddschecker, and many fans are backing them risk-free with PointsBet promo code. Upon watching the documentary it’s easy to see why, as it showed fans how manager Pep Guardiola and his key players maintain such high standards.

Basketball fans were offered similar insight with 2020’s “The Last Dance”, which focused on Michael Jordan’s role in leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. Watching this series showed just how driven he actually was, making it easier to understand the team’s failure to reach such heights since he retired.

It is undeniable that these recent documentaries made a big impact with fans, here are some others, including some older ones you may have never heard of.

Diego Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona was a supremely gifted footballer remembered by many as the greatest ever. His incredible career included highlights such his debut at Argentinos Juniors at the age of 15, captaining Napoli to their first two league titles, and leading Argentina to the World Cup. Despite his successes on the pitch, he suffered with numerous problems in his personal life, all of which made him one of the most intriguing characters in the game. The highs and lows of his life are excellently displayed in the 2019 documentary film which bears his name. Directed by Asif Kapadia, famous for his previous documentaries about Amy Winehouse and Ayrton Senna, “Diego Maradona” is a must see for sports fans.

When We Were Kings

1996 documentary “When We Were Kings” covers legendary boxer Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title win against George Forman. Controversially held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire), the circumstances surrounding this 1974 fight were highly contentious making the documentary by Leon Gast a fascinating watch. It took over 20 years to compile and edit the footage, resulting in stunning levels of detail rarely seen before or since in boxing documentaries. It was the 1996 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature, an accolade completely deserved. “When We Were Kings” is unmissable for boxing fans and anyone interested in the cultural, social and political impact of sport.

Fire in Babylon

“Fire in Babylon” tells the story of the ground-breaking West Indies cricket team that dominated the sport in the 1970’s and 80s, which featured iconic players like Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel. Written and directed by Stevan Riley, who recently received universal praise for his Marlon Brando documentary “Listen to Me Marlon”, “Fire in Babylon” covers the team’s successes on the pitch and their struggles to be paid fairly by their board. Viewers are given an inside look into the training sessions and team meetings that helped the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies team become one of the most feared teams cricket has ever seen. While the film concludes with the West Indies’ tour of England in 1984, the team went on to dominate the sport, going on undefeated in Test series from February 1980 to March 1995. Although such a streak from a team with much fewer resources than their rivals seems impossible today, this documentary shows just how far you can go with hard work, dedication and unity.