Sports documentaries you can stream right now

With the coronavirus has shut down the world of sports, it's a tricky time for fans. We’re largely stuck at home without March Madness as well as the NBA, NHL and MLB, for now. Fear not. Help is on the way. Lucky for you, there are many good sports documentaries out there to get you your fix. Here are some of our favorites that are currently available to stream.

 
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“Free Solo” (2018)

“Free Solo” (2018)

When a sports movie wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, odds are there’s at least something worthwhile about it. People by and large have enjoyed “Free Solo,” even if not everybody likes the man at the center: Alex Honnold. The film is about Honnold’s attempt to “free solo” climb El Capitan in Yosemite Park. If you don’t know, free soloing means climbing alone without any ropes or safety measures to keep you from falling. Watch it on Disney+ or Hulu.

 
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“Beyond the Mat” (1999)

“Beyond the Mat” (1999)

Pro wrestling may be sports entertainment, as opposed to sports proper, but wrestlers are still athletes who put their bodies on the line “Beyond the Mat” makes that quite clear. It’s a documentary that takes you into the lives of some notable wrestlers away from the ring, including a look at the damage they’ve taken. Back in 1999 this was still something fresh and largely unseen. “Beyond the Mat” is available on Netflix.

 
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“The Endless Summer” (1966)

“The Endless Summer” (1966)

We don’t often think about surfing among sports, but that hasn’t stopped “The Endless Summer” from being one of the most influential sports documentaries ever made. The movie follows American surfers as they travel the world catching waves in an attempt to have, well, an endless summer. It’s stood the test of time for over 40 years now. It’s on Amazon Prime, but you can also watch it with ads on Tubi.

 
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“Hoop Dreams” (1994)

“Hoop Dreams” (1994)

To many, “Hoop Dreams” is the quintessential sports documentary. The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two black basketball players from poor areas in Chicago who are recruited to play for the successful team at a nice, largely white, high school. Both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert named it the best film of 1994. Watch it yourself on HBO.

 
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“Icarus” (2017)

“Icarus” (2017)

“Icarus” started off as your typical stunt documentary. Director Bryan Fogel planned to chronicle himself doping to win an amateur cycling race. Then, in the process, he accidentally found himself in the middle of a massing doping scandal that blew up the sports world and almost ruined Russian sports. For his efforts, Fogel’s film won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. The film is on Netflix.

 
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“Senna” (2010)

“Senna” (2010)

Ayrton Senna quickly became one of the biggest stars in Formula 1 after he debuted in 1984. The Brazilian had a lot going for him. Then it all ended abruptly and tragically in 1994. Even if you have never heard of Senna, or seen him race, “Senna” is still a documentary worth watching. It’s available on Amazon Prime and also with ads on Tubi.

 
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“No No: A Dockumentary” (2014)

“No No: A Dockumentary” (2014)

Dock Ellis allegedly threw a no-hitter on LSD. This is what most people remember him for. In truth, though, Ellis was a troubled addict who was happy to get clean and help others do the same. While Ellis’ infamous LSD no-no is part of the story in this documentary, it’s only part of it, and it would maybe benefit us all to learn a little more about Ellis the man. See it on Amazon Prime or with ads on Tubi, Roku, or Vudu.

 
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“Andre the Giant” (2018)

“Andre the Giant” (2018)

Andre Roussimoff was indeed a giant, and that helped make him one of the first global superstars in wrestling. He was truly a living legend, but it wasn’t all great. Andre the Giant lived to be 46, after all, because his body could only take so much. This HBO documentary does a good job of chronicling the life of Andre through interviews with friend and coworkers, plus there is plenty of archive footage.

 
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“Diego Maradona” (2019)

“Diego Maradona” (2019)

This movie is directed by Asif Kapadia, who also directed “Senna.” He gets two films on this list, and he’s earned it. Diego Maradona was one of the biggest stars in the world and is an all-time soccer great. The Argentina legend was also a tempestuous personality and had issues off the field (and sometimes on them). This film covers a particularly complicated part of his life. Watch it on HBO.

 
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“Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” (2012)

“Bones Brigade: An Autobiography” (2012)

You may know “Dogtown and the Z-Boys,” the documentary about the legendary ‘70s skateboarding team that helped begin to popularize the sport. That movie was directed by Stacy Peralta, who had an even bigger role in “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography.” Once again, Peralta is the director, but he was also a key piece of the Bones Brigade, who changed skateboarding in the ‘80s. In fact, Peralta also directed the first-ever skate video, which of course featured the Bones Brigade. You can see the movie on Amazon Prime.

 
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“GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (2012)

“GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (2012)

Hey, they’ve made a lot of documentaries about pro wrestling, and a few of them are quite good. If you’ve watched “GLOW” the TV show on Netflix, you should definitely check out this documentary, also on Netflix, about the actual Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling show. It was goofy and a ton of fun in its campiness. That’s clear in the documentary, which is a nice companion piece for the show. Why not watch them both?

 
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“Ice Guardians” (2016)

“Ice Guardians” (2016)

Back in the day, players like Bob Probert and Dave Schultz were feared in the NHL. They were enforcers, and their job was to rough people up and to throw fists and it took a serious toll on their bodies and minds. The movie “Ice Guardians,” which has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, dives into the world of enforcing, a role that is dying, including interviews with some of the most famous ones from a bygone era. Watch it on Netflix.

 
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“The 24 Hour War” (2016)

“The 24 Hour War” (2016)

Did you see “Ford v Ferrari?” Did you enjoy it? Then you should check out this documentary that tells roughly the same story but did it a few years earlier. No, you don’t get to watch Christian Bale and Matt Damon, but you also don’t have Jon Bernthal playing a swole Lee Iacocca. Plus, you can see footage of actual Le Mans races. It’s also currently on Netflix.

 
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“Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager” (2018)

“Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager” (2018)

Here’s something for our soccer fan friends. Sir Bobby Robson was a good player but a better, and more beloved, manager. He even managed England from 1982 through 1990. However, in 1995 he was given a terminal cancer diagnosis and was told he had only months to live. Well not only did he live until 2009, but he also managed all the way until 2004. Netflix is the home of this documentary as well.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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