Once I learned how to get around You Tube properly, a whole new world was opened up to me. For the sports fan, it is a treasure trove of highlights, bloopers, games, amateurs, professionals, wannabes, neverwills, clips, docos and movies.
I have compiled a brief list of my three favourite sports docos/short films in the hope that it will inspire you as a sports fan to explore what's out there. Please add your favs to the comments section!
3 Must-See Sports Docos
I’m a nut for sports docos and films. I love them and watch them over and over. To do a list like this is not original, but my choices may be films that are new to you.
America do a lot of things better than most, sports docos being one. ESPN have mastered the art of drama/reality and the imagery and substance to their storytelling is largely unsurpassed in the genre. The excellent 30 for 30 series has something for everyone and is a must for all sports fans, but the E:60 short films also have some special ‘surprises’ that should be explored. If you haven’t seen them, get on YouTube and get amongst it. I would love to hear your feedback on my choices and some suggestions of your own…it may be that you love a doco I haven’t seen!
Kayla Montgomery is a High School distance runner from Winston Salem, North Carolina. Four years ago she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Tom Rinaldi beautifully crafts this short film with interviews with Kayla, her mum and dad (or should that be her mom and dad?), and her seemingly bi-polar athletics coach. One minute he is screaming at her from track side, the next he is photo bombing Kayla during an interview.
It is a touching and emotion charged short film of one girl’s battle to overcome a disease where the body attacks itself. She is attacking her body before it can truly control her. Inspirational, sensitive and ultimately uplifting, Kayla’s story encapsulates everything that is good about sport and the passion to overcome adversity.
It is currently my favourite short sports doco.
A low-budget production focusing on the American wheelchair rugby team, and the rivalry with a former American player now coaching the Canadian National team in the lead up to the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Murderball is as much an educational journey as it is entertainment value. The film uncovers the harsh realities faced by quadriplegic athletes, and the way they seek to rationalise their disability. Using wheelchair rugby, a harsh and sometimes violent sport, the athletes strive for what any elite athlete wants to achieve, winning.
Using interviews that lay bare the realities of life in a wheelchair, everything from sex to practical jokes on team camps, Rubin and Shapiro have created a film that shift the lines of understanding of the viewer. I’ve seen the faces of students watching this film change minute by minute – looks of sympathy, to wincing at the talk of sexual intercourse, laughter, tears and finally the faces are ‘normal’ as if they are cheering for their favourite footy team on a Friday night.
The skills and commitment of the athletes are obvious, but the intricate way their back stories are told is the real triumph of this film.
“Every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people do extraordinary things” said Coach Jim Valvano.
Valvano was an ordinary guy, a basketball coach, and for a time in the early 80’s, his career would provide extraordinary content worthy of a Disney film. His North Carolina State Wolfpack were an average team and to gain entry into the NCAA tournament, they had to win their conference tournament against all odds. Needing to win every game to progress, Valvano’s catchcry was “survive and advance”.
Sadly, Valvano’s own life took on a survival story of its own as he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Jimmy V dedicated his life to student athletes, sport and inspiring people. ESPN took on his story and with the help of archival footage and photographs, emotional interviews with past players and coaching rivals, Survive and Advance is a powerful story of optimism, going against the grain, and meeting adversity head on.
Valvano’s speech at the Espy awards in 1993 has become legendary and if one can lesson can be learned from his words, it is echoed in the motto of “The V Foundation for Cancer Research” which he founded –
Don’t give up…Don’t ever give up!