5 must-watch, gripping sports documentaries on Netflix
Netflix is home to some of the best documentaries in the world. And a few of those happen to be sports documentaries.
Sportspersons play, they entertain, and most of them have humble beginnings. Nothing compares to learning about the lives of real people who struggled and toiled to accomplish wondrous feats. Sometimes fascinating and other times emotional, sports documentaries not only inspire, but also educate.
5 of the most gripping sports documentaries on Netflix
Based on famed German car racer Michael Schumacher, the Netflix documentary Schumacher offers insight into the mind of the seven-time Formula 1 world champion.
Painting an intimate portrait of a man who spent most of his adult life surrounded by cameras is no mean feat. Schumacher, while a little formulaic, mostly succeeds in illuminating Michael Schumacher’s life.
The race car driver suffered a debilitating brain injury in a skiing accident in 2013, sending him into a coma. He now struggles to even communicate. Endorsed by the racer’s family, Schumacher is currently streaming on Netflix.
4) Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka captures the life of the eponymous tennis player. The 3 part documentary lays bare Osaka’s battles with her insecurities and her life off the court.
Directed by Garrett Bradley and narrated by Osaka herself, the documentary miniseries debuted on Netflix on July 16, 2021. Known for being an introvert, Osaka answers her question “What am I if I’m not a good tennis player?”
Amateur cyclist and director Bryan Fogel’s academy award-winning documentary film Icarus premiered on Netflix on August 4, 2017. Fogel investigates doping in professional sports in Icarus, especially in cycling. He comes in contact with scientist Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory.
Rodchenkov reveals his part in a global conspiracy and the Olympic doping scandal involving Russia. A hard-hitting film, Icarus doesn’t shy away from revealing harsh truths. Rodchenkov is currently living in America under witness protection.
Icarus is a must-watch high-stakes documentary that feels like a thriller film.
2) The Last Dance
An ESPN and Netflix joint venture, The Last Dance, chronicles the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan. Mainly focusing on Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance received widespread critical acclaim. The Last Dance features some never seen before footage from Jordan’s 1997-98 Bulls season.
The 10 part docuseries also features interviews from famous NBA personalities like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Phil Jackson. Directed by Jason Hehir, The Last Dance was released on Netflix on July 19, 2020 after concluding its weekly run on ESPN (US).
1) Last Chance U: Basketball
Netflix’s Last chance U: Basketball is a spinoff of similarly titled Last Chance U. But as the name suggests, Last Chance U: Basketball focuses on college basketball instead of college football like its predecessor.
The series follows the men's basketball team at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) during their 2019-2020 season. Led by headstrong coach John Mosley, the docuseries shows youngsters trying to fulfill their college potential.
Last Chance U: Basketball premiered on Netflix on March 10, 2021. As of this September, the series has been renewed for a second season.
Note: The list is subjective and reflects the views of the writer.