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Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time

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Sports documentaries aren’t just for dedicated sports fans like hardcore tailgaters or season ticket holders. A great sports documentary can truly inspire those with a passing interest and diehards. It has been a fact that, an impressive number of sports documentaries have gone mainstream by garnering significant critical acclaim and won major awards in the international level.

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time:

Dashed dreams, glorious victories, big characters and even bigger egos are the theme stories behind these best sports documentaries. We have enlisted top 10 best sports documentaries and the list is obviously a must watch chart.

Find out which one is the best sports documentary of all time?

10. Senna (2010)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Senna (2010)
Senna (2010) ; image credit rickscafetexan.blogspot.com

IMDb: 8.6/10

Director: Asif Kapadia

Writer: Manish Pandey

Genres: Documentaries/ Sport/ Biography

Release Date: 12 November 2010

Language: English, Portuguese, French, Japanese

Country of Origin: USA, UK, France, Brazil

In the early 1980s, the sight of iconic yellow helmet in most of the F1 drivers’ rear-view mirror was the equivalent of spotting a shark fin in the water. Ayrton Senna, the driver’s driver was as unstoppably fast as brutally ruthless and he was always prepared to take the line. In spite of trimming off a few of the Brazilian’s rough edges, the director Asif Kapadia still managed to provide a well-rounded portrait in his documentary. He told entirely through often-rare footage and voiceovers in this sports documentary.

Even if you don’t know anything about the brakes and gears, he still manages to make F1 racing look like the most propulsive, exhilarating and dangerous sport on the planet. Senna is currently one of the highest rated sports documentary and we have selected it for No. 10 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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9. Once in a Lifetime (2006)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Once in a Lifetime (2006)
Once in a Lifetime (2006) ; image credit www.movieposter.com

IMDb: 7.3/10

Directors: Paul Crowder, John Dower.

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Release Date: 7 July 2006

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA, UK

The documentary has captured the brief moment in time when America fell in love with “soccer” and it was spear-headed by the arrival of great Pele at New York Cosmos soccer club. The club flushed with cash thanking its recent purchase by Warner Communications. The Greatest Footballer on Earth, Pele then swiftly joined Franz Beckenbauer and gobby Italian btaggart Giorgio Chinaglia.

The NYC went Cosmos-crazy by taking on a suitable rock-star swagger and created an irresistible party atmosphere. Their high profile players scored big at the likes of Studio 54, conveniently ignoring that the legends arguably underachieved on the pitch. Once is a lifetime is at No. 9 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time. It is one of the best football documentaries in sports history.

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8. Murderball (2005)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Murderball (2005)
Murderball (2005) ; image credit northcoastcafe.typepad.com

IMDb: 7.8/10

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro.

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Murderball or Wheelchair rugby would be the more respectable name for this sport. The directors Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro focused on the bitter rivalry between neighboring countries USA and Canada in the run up to 2004’s Paralympics. The players’ stories are gripping, touching as well as inspiring, though it was really the kamikaze. The game was full of high-impact tackling that leaves itself imprinted in your mind like it does in the players’ wheelchairs.

After taking the inducing brutal thumps and the crashes the guy absorbed- looking all the more raw for their low-budget camera work- you will be thinking that Murderball is probably the most accurate title in this manner. Muderball makes its place at No. 8 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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7. Beyond The Mat (1999)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Beyond The Mat (1999)
Beyond The Mat (1999) ; image credit idfl.me

IMDb: 7.6/10

Director: Barry W. Blaustein

Genres: Documentary/ Biography/ Sport

Release Date: 17 March 2000

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

After watching this documentary you would think that there won’t be anyone who have thought wrestling isn’t real. It is the part of this documentary that Vince McMahon didn’t wanna see. This documentary is all about a portrayal of showbiz life. Barry Blaustein focused on three WWF/E veterans as they cope with life outside the ring-as well as following some newbies looking to make their names in the ring.

Watching Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts hitting his crack-pipe after a failed reconciliation with his estranged daughter or watching Terry Funk’s broken body shuffle into one-more final gig or the gut-wrenching finishing move of the new guys crippled himself soon after filming the video and all on a sudden all these wrestling look so real indeed. Beyond the Mat is at No. 7 position in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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6. Endless Summer (1966)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Endless Summer (1966)
Endless Summer (1966) ; image credit www.boardistan.com

IMDb: 7.8/10

Director: Bruce Brown

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Release Date: 17 August 1968

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Thirty years before Point Break, there was Endless Summer, the summer with clean-cut golden boys standing on the shores looking ready-made to be turned into icons. Bruce Brown introduced the world to the horizon-broadening surf-and-travel culture of wave-jockeys like Mike Hynson and Robert August. They set out to chase the sun from California through to Hawaii, Australia, Africa and New Zealand. Some of it may looks a bit dated.

The PC crowd could have a field day with the gang’s trip to Africa. The Endless Summer defines what a cool sportsman looked like for a generation. We have selected this amazing sports documentary for the 6th place in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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5. Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001)
Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001) ; image credit burningflags.com

IMDb: 7.7/10

Director: Stacy Peralta

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Release Date: 3 January 2002

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

In the mid-70s, surfers who hung out at the Zephyr Surf Shop would skateboard when the surf was quite. Over the years, the Z-Boys invent and polish their style on a hilly street near the shop, on the asphalt slopes and ringing school grounds and lastly in empty swimming pools during California drought. The Z-Boys emerged to astound upright skateboarders in 1975 championship.

The team splinters within a year as some join better financed pro-teams. The documentary ends with profiles of the stars, Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams and Tony Alva. We consider it to be at No 5 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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4. The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters (2007)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, The King of Kong
The King of Kong ; image credit www.shanevadnais.com

IMDb: 8.2/10

Director: Seth Gordon

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Release Date: 28 February 2008

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

In the early 1980s, Billy Mitchell, the legend set a Donkey Kong record that stood for almost 25 years in the history of sports. ‘The King of Kong’ follows the assault on this record by Steve Weibe who was an earnest teacher and took up the game while unemployed. The highest scores are maintained by a cadre of players and fans associated with Walter Day, who runs Funspot, an annual tournament.

Steve breaks Billy’s scores in public at Funspot and Billy promptly mails a controversial video tape of himself setting a new record. So, Steve travels to Florida with a hope Billy will face him for the Guinness World records in 2007. Wanna know who will win the record? Then you have to watch it. The king of kong has been picked up for No 4 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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3. Pumping Iron (1977)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Pumping Iron (1977)
Pumping Iron (1977) ; image credit lasvegas.informermg.com

IMDb: 7.5/10

Directors: George Butler, Robert Fiore

Genres: Documentary/ Sport

Release Date: 31 March 1978

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

From Gold’s Gym in California to the showdown in Pretoria, both amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for winning the title in 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia contests in this documentary film. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the five-time world champion defends his Mr. Olympia title against the shy young deaf Lou Ferrigno and Serge Nubret. The ruthless champion psyches out the young lion.

Sardinian Franco who at home in Italy solves a tight parking problem by lifting the car into place, competes in the lightweight class in that competition. Ken Waller and Mike Katz go for the Mr. Universe title while Joe Weider is the marketer. Pumping Iron is at No. 3 in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time.

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2. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams (1994) ; image credit dizzygiant.com

IMDb: 8.3/10

Director: Steve James

Genres: Documentary/ Drama/ Sport

Release Date: 14 October 1994

Country of Origin: USA

There are some stories which need to be finished. Steve James started out making his sports documentary about two promising ballers from the Chicago projects given places at an high school expecting to turn it into a 30-minute masterpiece. 5 years and 250 hours of video footage later, William and Arthur’s pursuit of their NBA dreams- who gradually turn into men before our eyes- remains the most compelling journey on this short film; education, taking in basketball and the grim realities facing kids from PJs.

The kids might not turned themselves into Michael Jordan, but this isn’t so much an emotional slam dunk as well. The documentary is considered to be one of the best basketball documentaries in history. It will be surely unwise to put it away from the list.

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1. When We Were Kings (1996)

Top 10 Best Sports Documentaries of All time, When We Were Kings (1996)
When We Were Kings (1996) ; image credit movies-online.biz

IMDb: 8/10

Director: Leon Gast

Genres: Documentary / Drama/ Sport

Release Date: 14 February 1997

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

In 1974, at 32 years of age Muhammed Ali thought by many to be past his prime. On other hand, Goerge Forman is ten years younger to him and the World Heavyweight Champion. Promoter Don king wants to make his own name and offers both fighters five million dollars apiece to fight one another. When they accept the best offer, it is King who has only come up with the money. King finds a backer in Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of African Zaire and the “Rumble in the Jungle” is set accordingly.

This documentary is a musical festival, featuring the America’s top black sportsmen like James Brown and B.B King and so on. The documentary is ranked one in our list of top 10 best sports documentaries of all time in sports history. Hope you have enjoyed the list. Please give your valuable comments regarding the list of best sports documentaries.

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