Sports Documentaries With Universal Appeal

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Sports Documentaries With Universal Appeal

Sports are not for everyone, this is true. Not everyone enjoys spending a day thwacking a cricket ball about a circular pitch, or watching twenty-two people run around a rectangular pitch for an hour and a half kicking a ball into a net. However, what most people do enjoy is a good story. There are some fantastic sport documentaries in existence which reveal true stories like no other, whether it is the underdog who triumphs over all or just an example of a human being with an extraordinary skill. These documentaries appeal to the masses, for it shows that anything is possible; inspiring us to go that bit further with our own lives. Here are six sports documentaries that have universal appeal.


It’s probably fair to say that motorsports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Rather, it’s a bit more of a love-it-or-hate-it affair. However, the film Senna is dramatic as it comes. The film focusses on the infamous racer, Ayrton Senna, and how he changed the world of motor racing. 106 minutes of passion, battles, inner demons, family and a very special soul like no other.


‘Some lads love going to the pub, some guys like shagging…I don’t mind it I’m just not into it’ – Guy Martin. This documentary delves into the history of the Isle of Man’s Tourist Trophy race, brimming full of ups and downs, rivalries, sacrifice and human spirit. Perhaps the most dangerous race on earth, director Richard de Aragues picks apart and analyses what motivates the drivers involved.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams is like a real-life Coach Carter, except it focusses on the boys involved. Two young boys with a dream of being in the NBA are followed by cameras for five years; this film is a document of their journey. The movie does a great job of uncovering true city life and the pressures on young black teens growing up. With more realism, emotion, tragedy, hope and truth than any Hollywood film ever made; this documentary deserves to be in everyone’s collection.

The King of Kong

If you didn’t think video gaming was a sport, then guess again. Video gaming requires as much dexterity and pinpoint precision as a darts or snooker player. However, do we know who are the best video gamers that the world has ever seen? Meet Steve Weibe and Mark Alpiger. These two likely lads meet head to head to compete for the world’s highest score in the classic video game of Donkey Kong. Director Seth Gordon works his magic as he picks apart the subculture of retro video gamers; this film goes to show how weird and wonderful life can be.

Pumping Iron

Pumping Iron covers the top amateur body builders in 1975 using the Mr Universe contest as a platform to focus around. The documentary reeks of inspiration, making you want to get up off that couch and head into the gym for a weightlifting session. Audiences are not only entertained by Arnold but by the character that is Lou Ferrigno’s father.

The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson – Unforgivable Blackness

In a time when Black people were not enslaved, but were not truly free either, the boxer Jack Johnson insisted on being free. For more than 13 years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and most notorious African American on Earth; coming from nowhere. The story of Johnson is truly fascinating. ‘Just remember that whatever you write about me, I was a man’ – Johnson speaking to a reporter not long before his death.

Thanks to The Mirror’s Grand National team for compiling this list!

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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