Tuesday, March 19, 2013

LIST: Sport films

This list of sport films was organized by Kyle Green (University of Minnesota) based on contributions of NASSS' members. We would like to thank Kyle and everyone who has contributed with suggestions.

Sport Films


Friday Night Lights

North Dallas Forty


Eight Men Out

The Fighter


Sugar - in my immigration class, though it is also a good film to use in a sport class. You can
use this to talk about sports migrants, race, and ethnicity

The Blind Side - The downside is that most students have seen it before but it worked well to
talk about the influences of race, class, and gender on sporting participation.

Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings

varsity blues

coach carter

hurricane season

Bend it Like Beckham

chariots of fire - discuss sport and early 20th century nationalism

The Black Power Salute - documentary on the Mexico City Olympics. It's available on Youtube.

prime time dramas such as episodes of Cold Case (CBS), Law & Order: SVU, and am even
using an episode of the Bernie Mac Show next week


Go Tigers!

A State of Mind

Jump! (Awesome jumprope documentary)

Rocks with Wings (2002) (dir: Rick Derby)

100% Woman: the Michelle Dumaresq Story (2004)

Golden Gloves (or the Real Million Dollar Babies) (2007)

A League of Their Own (the documentary film) (1993)

Training Rules (2009) - for the section on Gender and Sports. It's available on Hulu, I believe.
It concerns the scandal around former Penn State Women's Basketball Coach, Rene Portland.

When We Were Kings (1996)

Playing Unfair (2002)

Chasing October

Football Under Cover

Pink Ribbons - Samantha King

A Hero for Daisy (1999) - a documentary about Title IX and rowing

Training Rules - about the anti-lesbian policies of Rene Portland at Penn State--definitely
important for a sport and society class.

The PBS series "American Experience" has an episode on Jesse Owens that I have wanted to
watch--you can screen it online.

Ahead of the Majority – about Patsy Mink - covers her political career and has a section on
her involvement in the politics of Title IX. It was made about 3 years ago and I have used the
section on T9 for a lecture on the topic in the past

Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008) - examples of hegemonic masculinity and how the media
influences males' self-images (not just females, as is so commonly discussed).

Hoop Dreams - I highly recommend the chapter by C.L. Cole and Samantha King, “The New
Politics of Urban Consumption: Hoop Dreams, Clockers, and America,” in Ralph C. Wilcox, ed.,
Sporting Dystopias: The Making and Meaning of Urban Sport Cultures, pp. 14, 221-246.

Viva Baseball

Unforgivable Blackness

“Two Days In April” – it’s about 90 minutes long so I use it as an outside of class viewing
(documentary following 4 college football players as they try to make it to the NFL from just
before the the Senior Bowl through the draft) – it is available on YouTube in two parts so is
easily accessible for all students. It fits well with sport and social class and discussions of the
slim chances of making it to the pros.

In Whose Honor

Not Just A Game (2010) - by Dave Zirin - provides a sociological analysis of how sport
influences our society particularly the parallels between the institution of sport and the military.

Pursuing the Perfect 10 - This was a CNN documentary that is available on YouTube in several
parts. I used it as a review after lessons on youth sports and deviance in sports (specifically to
discuss overconformity)
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvMpy6kEOZM

An Enforcer's Story - This is a documentary style video available in conjunction with a piece that
ran in the NY Times about Derek Boogaard's death. The link to the story is below, and you can
click on the video. I used this to talk about violence in sports and my students told me that they
really enjoyed it.
Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/sports/hockey/derek-boogaard-a-boy-learns-to-
brawl.html )

Murderball - Usually none of the students have seen it and they really like it. In fact I just
showed it yesterday and the students couldn’t stop talking about it.
Use the ‘reading sport’ method to critically analyze the documentary Murder Ball. Be sure to
do a complete analysis, including: manifest and latent meanings, ideologies (e.g. disability,
masculinity, femininity, patriotism, family, etc.), particular context (e.g. social, political, historical,
etc.), and use of technology to tell a story (e.g. camera, recording, audio, etc.). Your analysis
should be organized by theme (I’d suggest either by manifest and latent meanings or by

Junior – very raw documentary that follows a Canadian Hockey League team from the Quebec
Major Junior Hockey League called Baie-Comeau Drakker - What this film does is offer some
insight into how players dedicate their life in chasing what is quite literally...a dream.

Head Games - related to concussion and sport. I've also heard good things about but haven't
yet watched it.

More Than a Game - A good movie on the influence of commercialization of high school
and amateur sports. Documents the early career of the heralded LeBron James' high school

Race: The Power of Illusion (2003). There are three parts. I would show episode 1 in a Sport
and Society type of class (it focuses on the science of 'race') and I show episode 2 in my sport
history class (it focuses on how race developed as an ideology historically). I haven't had an
opportunity to show episode 3 as much, but it focuses on the lasting economic impact of the
ideology of race — particularly in where we live and the value of housing.

FIT: Episodes in the History of he Body (1991). This focuses on the history of the how we
understand a 'fit' body, including analysis related to race, social class, gender, disability and

The Journey of the African American Athlete" (Parts 1 and 2)

Blood on the Flat Track – documentary on the rat city roller girls

Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team

Joe Louis – America’s Hero Betrayed

Two Days In April - follows four NFL prospects through the process of preparing for and
participating in the 2006 NFL Draft

4th and Goal – Tale of six men trying to make it to the NFL

Undefeated - Oscar-winning 2011 documentary directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. The
film documents the struggles of a high school football team, the Manassas Tigers of Memphis,
as they attempt a winning season after years of losses.

Born and Bred – documentary following young latino boxers in LA

The Morgan Lacrosse Story (pbs) - This film tells the story of the nation's first and only college
lacrosse team at a historically black institution.

Gridiron & Steel – Western Pennsylvania and football

On the Shoulders of Giants – Story of the Harlem Rens

Bra Boys (2007): A movie about a particularly hyper-masculine group of male surfers (the
Bra Boys) in Sydney, Australia. A good example of a fratriarchal sporting group, and all the
problematic aspects associated with such groupings. I often use alongside the critique from
Clifton Evers in the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/false-

Dogtown and Z Boys (2001): The development of skateboarding in Southern California, great
for revealing subcultural dynamics.

First Descent (2005): A history of snowboarding and insight into the gender and age dynamics
within core action sport groups.

This Ain't California (2012): In German with English subtitles, but offers a fascinating
perspective on the development of skateboarding (and youth counter cultures) in East Berlin
during the 1980s. Very raw with nudity and drugs, so students may need to be warned in

STRONG! - an awesome new documentary on Cheryl Hayworth, Olympic weightlifter. It deals
well with questions of athleticism, gender, and normativity. http://strongthefilm.com/

Offside (2006) - from Iran. Interesting to look at cross-cultural understandings and expressions
of gender. It looks at how gender is used to define spaces of sport: specifically the soccer
stadium. Note that it has some swear words...and is subtitled.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation has put out many documentaries in their "Fifth Estate"

Fearless (2012) - about Sarah Burke, top athletes who risk their life for high performance sport

The Legacy of Brendan Burke (2010) - about Brendan Burke, homosexuality, hockey.

The Code (2010) - about hockey's unwritten law of fighting and the men who live by it.

Head Games (2008) - about head injuries in professional football.

The Rise and Fall of Theo Flury - (Part 1, 2008) (Part 2, 2010), about sexual abuse,
homosexuality, masculinity in Junior A hockey (and professional hockey)

The Other Final - Made by two Dutch filmmakers who were dismayed that the Dutch national
team did not make the 2002 World Cup, they arranged to have the then two bottom-ranked (by
FIFA), Bhutan and Montserrat, to play a match.

A State of Mind - documentary on mass games in N. Korea. Good film, students often mention
this one as a favorite.

Sumo East and West - a little dated, but still useful. I've found this one good for getting
students talking about the idea of traditions in sport, and how they can be mobilized for various
The Game of Their Lives (2002) - not the disney movie of same title--the one by Daniel Gordon
on the N. Korean 1966 World Cup Team.

Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball - On high school teams competing in Japan's famous
national "Koshien" tournament. I like to pair this with parts of Go Tigers! (Massillon, OH football).
There's an earlier documentary on this as well, but the title escapes me. This one was on POV,
so there's a nice website connected to the film.

Tokyo Olympiad parts - (it's too long), great for considering how Japan sought to represent itself
during the 1964 Games.

A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler (2009)

Gaea Girls (2000) - on female wrestlers in Japan.

The Forbidden Team (2003?) - on the Tibetan soccer team. I've never been able to get a copy
of this, though it seems that parts of it are online now. Part of the other problem is that there's
not a lot of English language scholarship on Tibetan sports, so this would have to largely stand

Brighton Bandits (2007) -- first ever in-depth documentary about a gay soccer team
trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvKN3X_RCxY

Justin (2008) -- about gay footballer Justin Fashanu and a campaign against homophobia
trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Algorithm (2012) -- gorgeous film about blind chess players in India
trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?

River of Life – a non-fiction doc about the breast cancer survivor voyageur canoe team
"Paddlers Abreast" competing in the Yukon River Quest wilderness canoe race - 740 kms/460
miles in three days.Available for purchase (about $20 or so) through the NFB of Canada and
free here: http://www.nfb.ca/film/river_of_life/

30 for 30

I would encourage you to order the ESPN "30 for 30" series as well as HBO's "Real Sports"
series, which has several insightful documentaries.

The Two Escobars – lots of recommendations

Winning Time

Ghosts of Mississippi

Pony Excess - This is an ESPN 30 for 30 that covers the rise and fall of SMU football. I liked
it because it covers the intersection of commercialism, business, education and politics. The
students also really liked this one. It's available on youtube or on DVD.

Also, you might consider the movie series that is coming up on ESPN this summer. Here is the
list of documentaries: http://espn.go.com/espnw/nine-for-ix/

Role Tide War Eagle – ESPN documentary (Auburn Alabama rivalry)

No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson


Fab Five

Other Lists

I personally like http://www.filmsforaction.org/ It is a lacuna of documentary-style films that can
be used in the classroom. It does not always have films related to sport, but is definitely worth
using to talk about wider social issues: globalisation, consumerism, community, media, empire,
health... etc

good old wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_films

A broad list of sports movies: http://www.sportsinmovies.com/

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