image The Oct 5 issue of ESPN Magazine has a two-page spread on sports documentaries, naming these titles as its Top 10:

1) HOOP DREAMS (dir. Steve James)
2) WHEN WE WERE KINGS (dir. Leon Gast) – pictured
3) PUMPING IRON (dir. George Butler & Robert Fiore)
4) MURDERBALL (dir. Henry Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro)
5) BASEBALL (dir. Ken Burns)
6) DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (dir. Stacy Peralta)
7) THE KING OF KONG (dir. Seth Gordon)
8) BLACK MAGIC (dir. Dan Klores)
9) HANDS ON A HARD BODY (dir. S.R. Bindler)
10) ENDLESS SUMMER (dir. Bruce Brown)

Let’s discuss. As much as I think HANDS ON A HARD BODY is a great film, does a contest to win a truck count as sports? Or playing video games in KING OF KONG?

By those standards of competition, why not include SPELLBOUND or WORDPLAY?

Off the top of my head, here are other contenders for a Top 10 of sports docs:

a) BLINDSIGHT (dir. Lucy Walker)
b) FALLEN CHAMP: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MIKE TYSON (dir. Barbara Kopple)
c) FOOTBALL (aka MOONEY VS. FOWLE) (dir Jim Lipscomb for Drew Associates)
d) HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 (dir. Kevin Rafferty)
e) THE HEART OF THE GAME (dir. Ward Serrill)
f) MORE THAN A GAME (dir. Kristopher Belman) – coming to theaters this fall
g) MUHAMMAD ALI, THE GREATEST (dir. William Klein)
h) RANK (dir. John Hyams)
i) SNOWBLIND (dir. Vikram Jayanti)
j) SURFWISE (dir. Doug Pray)
k) SWEET DREAMS (dir. Eric Latek)

Readers, please use the comment section to name your own favorites.

  • Peter Davis

    My vote for a great sports documentary goes to Blood, Sweat and Gears directed by Nick Davis

  • Nina Seavey

    4TH AND GOAL – Coming soon. Sometimes the best is yet to happen.

  • Sloane Cooper

    Best Sports Doc?  Blood Sweat + Gears Directed by Nick Davis

  • Andrew Catauro

    Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait would be near the top of my list; and maybe Speedo! (Why not)

    Racing Dreams would also be worth some discussion—a great recent entry in the motorsports doc canon.

  • Patti Villegas

    One of my faves is Quantum Hoops directed by Rick Greenwald.

  • Eddie Rosenstein

    How about that little diddy, “OLYMPIA”, by Leni Riefenstahl?