With next-to-no live sport to watch right now, we’ve lost count of the killer sport docs available to binge-watch while you’re cooped up at home!
The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team
Where: Amazon Prime
Why: Widely regarded as the best Australian sports documentary ever produced. The Test charts the 18-month period from the South African sandpaper ball-tampering scandal to retaining The Ashes in England. It’s a fly-on-the-wall look inside the Australian Cricket Team like we’ve never seen. The Test captures many tense and raw moments – heated exchanges between coach Justin Lager and captain Tim Paine; the tears of Usman Khawaja after being ruled out of the World Cup; the harrowing moments after Steve Smith is hit in the neck by Jofra Archer at Lord’s; and Nathan Lyon painfully re-watching the moment he missed a game-clinching run out in the Fourth Test loss to England at Headingly. A must for the cricket, and sport, tragics.
The Last Dance
Why: Newly released on Netfix, The Last Dance chronicles Michael Jordan – the greatest NBA player of all time – in his final season with the Chicago Bulls, as he chases a sixth title in eight seasons. Despite being Basketball’s most influential and marketable player, The Last Dance feels like the movie-ending scene in The Wizard of Oz where we finally catch a glimpse of the ‘real’ Wizard. You’ll hear a lot of swearing from Jordan – it’s the unfiltered side of pro athletes that we rarely get a chance to see on camera. Re-live the travelling sideshow that was ‘MJ’ in his pomp, and discover just how the Bulls co-existed with so many unique alpha males – namely Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen – in one team.
Sunderland ‘til I Die
Why: Follow the painful, never-ending fall from grace of Sunderland AFC, as it crashes from the heights of the Premier League to League One – the third tier of English football. Sunderland ‘til I Die is a difficult watch for even a neutral fan. It pulls no punches and is a warts-and-all look at the failings of a major sports team across virtually every area of its business – from the physio table and pitch, to the boardroom and marketing office. Above all else, this documentary paints a wonderfully powerful picture of the pull and power sport has, and how the sufferings of a team can be felt across all areas of the community.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Why: Formula 1 has always been a sport shrouded in secrecy, but Drive to Survive peels back the onion to uncover the inner workings of the best and worst teams up-and-down the pit lane. With a heavy emphasis on Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s switch from Red Bull to Renault, the series puts the spotlight on the behind-the-scenes drama F1 is known for – bitter teammate rivalries, management bust-ups, and pressure-cooker moments in the pits and behind the wheel.
Dark Side of the Ring
Where: SBS On Demand
Why: While not a sport documentary per se, this peak at the underbelly of professional wrestling (we’ll call it ‘sports-entertainment’ for this exercise) is a fascinating watch, even if you detest the art form. Dark Side of the Ring uncovers the moments where real life blurs into the scripted, pre-determined world of pro rasslin’. Season 2 opens with a two-part special on the murky Chris Benoit murder-suicide case, and details the reunion between two broken families – it’s awfully confronting, like most episodes in the series are. The upcoming finale on the death of Owen Hart – a Canadian wrestler who fell from the top of a stadium into the ring, only for the show to continue – looms as a can’t-miss episode.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Why: “No one has allegedly murdered two people and then played an entire season as a professional athlete” – the opening line of the trailer sets the scene perfectly for this haunting three-part special on the life and death of former NFL superstar Aaron Hernandez. Killer Inside confronts the questions of how Hernandez went from being a $40-million-per-season player to a prisoner, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.