With the population confined to their houses across the nation, there’s never been a better time to explore some of the best content Netflix has to offer.
And for those of us scrambling to consume at least some semblance of sport amid its almost worldwide cancellation across the globe, the universal streaming site can provide some much-needed respite.
For your viewing pleasure, we’ve decided to put together five of our favourite sporting documentaries on Netflix, all of which are a must-see for any sports fan desperate for action. Let’s take a look below.
Something a little bit different, Cheer! is a six-part series on Netflix which documents the Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team from Corsicana, Texas, through their pursuit of another National Championship at junior college level.
The documentary gives an in-depth look into an industry that is otherwise alien to most outside of it, especially in Ireland, with cheerleading treated just as competitively as any other high-level sport at collegiate level in the States.
Where Cheer! shines though is in its human element as it highlights five cheer team hopefuls, showing us their often gruelling routine and documenting their challenging personal lives outside of the confines of Navarro College.
The sporting prowess is there in abundance throughout also, with the training, routines and well-documented nasty spills (which in some cases end in turn-away-from-the-tv injury) well focussed on, as coach Monica Aldama puts these high-level athletes through their paces.
You may go into this with a preconceived idea of the sport of cheerleading, but we promise you’ll come out of it with a new found respect.
The Carter Effect
A documentary that explores the cultural and societal impact of Vince Carter’s arrival in the NBA in conjunction with his basketball career, The Carter Effect is a true hidden gem.
Half-man, half-amazing landed in Toronto in 1998 during a time when the city’s franchise were only five years in existence and the sport of basketball largely uninterested the general population in Canada.
Carter’s exciting and eye-catching brand of basketball, including his now-iconic appearance in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest, led to an increased spotlight on Toronto and grew the sport’s popularity throughout the city and the country.
He represented a cultural shift in a city unlike any seen by an NBA player in history, building Toronto into a steady franchise and laying the groundwork for their eventual first Championship in 2019.
Carter’s highlights are a simple yet extremely effective way of hooking you into the documentary while hearing sit-down interviews with the likes of Drake, who speaks on Carter’s influence on his own life, add so much.
A must for any sports fan.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
You may not be a fan of Formula 1, however, that will change after watching this riveting documentary which gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the work that goes into running a successful Formula 1 team.
Casual fans will be aware of household names such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, however, Drive to Survive gives viewers an insight into lesser-known F1 drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg among many others.
The documentary also follows Team Principals (similar to managers) such as Red Bull’s Christian Horner, husband of Geri Halliwell, and Geunther Steiner of America’s only F1 outfit, Haas F1 team. Viewers get an insight into the cut-throat world of F1 and how everything can change in a split second, whether it’s the car or the driver.
The documentary is so good, that the first season barely gives focus to who is winning the championship rather it focuses mainly on the mid-level teams and how they plan on catching up with Mercedes and Ferrari.
However, what is arguably the best thing about the documentary is the insight into the drama that occurs throughout an F1 season, from catastrophic team mistakes to drivers losing their seats and how there are zero filters when it comes to dealing with the media.
In this 2017 Academy award-winning documentary Bryan Fogel set out to chronicle his exploration of doping within cycling and if it would help him to win an amateur competition.
However, the documentary takes a huge twist when the director seeks the help of Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory. If you haven’t seen the documentary as of yet, you can kind of guess where this is going.
Fogel enlists the help of Rodchenkov who creates a plan for him to take banned substances in a way that will evade detection from anti-doping testers, thus helping to prove Fogel’s experiment that the current methods of testing athletes do not work.
As their relationship grows, the Russian eventually lets Fogel in on some state secrets that the Russian government would not want anybody knowing. Out of fear of Rodchenkov being ‘silenced’, Fogel flies him to the United States for his own protection where more harrowing truths are uncovered.
QB1: Beyond the Lights
While not all of us are fans of American football, we all know that the quarterback is the most vital position on the field. It is, arguably, the most pressurised position in all of team sports.
While we are used to seeing the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes ripping it up in the NFL and winning Superbowl titles, what must the journey have been to get them there?
This fascinating documentary takes a look at three high school quarterbacks as they try to navigate their school to victory in their senior year, all the while, looking to impress various college scouts in the hope of picking up a scholarship that will put them on the path towards their NFL dream.
We know that the pressure that comes with being an NFL quarterback is tough but what many won’t know is that right down to high school level, it is more or less the same. QB1’s must deal with local and national media (depending on the school) and carry the weight of a whole town or county’s expectations to win a State Championship.
Sunderland Till I Die
The fly-on-the-wall documentary has returned to Netflix for a second season, and (spoiler alert) things don’t much easier for the beleaguered north-east club. Sunderland, as a city and the club, have declined from past glories. A former industrial powerhouse, the city’s shipyards have shut up shop and its once-proud football club has been on a downward for spiral, entering freefall, over the last few years.
Sunderland Till I Die lares bare the best and worst of modern football. It’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary cum-soap opera with some car-crash television thrown in for good measure. If you missed season one when it was released, miss football and are looking for something to binge on, you’re in a treat.