With sporting events currently being cancelled, you may be itching for some great sports-related content. Luckily, ESPN+ has you covered with the incredible 30 for 30 documentary series.
If you’re not familiar with this series, it breaks down some of the greatest storied in the history of sports, some well known, some not so much. These are emotionally-driven stories that will have you hooked in minutes, whether you’re a sports fan or not.
So, out of the long list of amazing documentaries you can find on ESPN+, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the more lighthearted and fun options. The list below, in no particular order, will provide you with some great, fun sports content to enjoy during this tough time.
The 16th Man
“Following the fall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela saw an opportunity to achieve national unity through the sport. This is the inspirational story of the emotional moment when two nations became one.”
Rugby might not be the first sport that comes to mind right now, but this story of the South African Rugby team is one of the most touching sports stories out there and it comes from Morgan Freeman, who co-directs the documentary.
The Birth of Big Air
“Join director Jeff Tremaine and producers Spike Jonze & Johnny Knoxville as they share the story of BMX legend Mat Hoffman and find out what happens when you combine big dreams and tons of plywood.”
This documentary looks at one of the most exciting aspects of BMX and Matt Hoffman, the man who created the idea with motivations of the purity of the sport, as opposed to money and fame.
Into the Wind
“Three years after having his right leg amputated above the knee, Terry Fox set out to raise funds for cancer research by running a marathon’s distance each day across Canada.”
An uplifting story of a man diagnosed with bone cancer who captured the heart of a nation with his Marathon of Hope, with the goal of raising money for cancer research in mind.
Requiem for the Big East
“Told primarily through the lens of famed Big East coaches, the film takes a nostalgic look at the rivalries and successes that catapulted the Big East to groundbreaking success.”
Missing college basketball? This doc looks back at some of the best action the sport has ever seen, in one of the sport’s strongest conferences.
You Don’t Know Bo
“Bo Jackson hit 500-foot home runs and ran over linebackers. A look at the man and the myths that captured our collective imagination.”
Bo knows. One of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen is the subject of this documentary. Not every story has to have a rise and fall. This is just a look at incredible talent at work.
Survive and Advance
“The unforgettable story of the 1982–1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack and their improbable run to the NCAA Championship. The film takes a poignant look at Jim Valvano and his remarkable impact.”
In the absence of an NCAA basketball tournament this year, take a look back at one of the best ever. Coach Jim Valvano is one of the most inspirational figures in the history of sports, and this doc will show you why.
Of Miracles and Men
“Explore the scope of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ through the Soviet lens. With an intense focus on the game itself, the film gives a fresh perspective to the journey of a stunned Soviet team.”
Do you believe in miracles? The Miracle on Ice is one of the most well-known sports stores of all-time and with good reason. It even sparked an amazing Disney film. Take a closer look at the game and the road to it with this doc.
42 to 1
“Buster Douglas defied logic and the odds when he beat Iron Mike Tyson in 10 rounds.”
Underdog stories are almost a cliche when it comes to sports, but that doesn’t make them any less spectacular when they come true. This doc examines one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
For a closer look, check out Kyle’s review.
The Good, The Bad, The Hungry
“The rivalry between Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi went beyond hot dogs.”
It’s hard to get more lighthearted than the world of competitive eating. This one takes a closer look at an intense rivalry, between two guys who are known for eating more hot dogs than anyone else in the world.
“There's a special place on the southern shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River where a special group of fans live and no matter what the Tribe, Cavs and Browns do to them, they always still believe”
Hate him or love him, LeBron James brought a title back to Cleveland, a city that had become synonymous with losing. There is a lot of pain involved with being a sports fan, but that only makes the victory that much sweeter.
Deion’s Double Play
“In 24 hours, Deion Sanders played two sports in two cities, a thousand miles apart.”
Another look at one of the most amazing athletes of all-time. Sanders somehow pulled off the impossible feat of playing in two postseason baseball games and a professional football game in a span of 24 hours.
For a closer look, check out Kyle’s review.
This Was the XFL
“A bold challenge, a fearless experiment and ultimately, a spectacular failure. In 2001, sports entertainment titans Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon launched the XFL.”
A surprisingly relevant documentary with the recent revival of the XFL. Take a look back at the upstart football league’s first attempt, all the way back in 2001.
As an added bonus, you can also enjoy this short mockumentary about the beloved Disney movie Angels in the Outfield.
You can watch all of these great 30 for 30 documentaries and many more on ESPN+ now. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”