At Tubi TV, we’re deep into the frenzy of March Madness, and while I don’t exactly have the greatest jump shot in the world, (I’m WORKING on it, David!) I’m a sucker for the high drama and heart-stirring moments that make sports stories worth watching. You may be a hardcore sports fan, or you might just be in desperate need of a story that’s so uplifting it will have you pumping your fist (or just ugly crying with emotion. I don’t judge). Either way, these are some of the moments and stories from sports documentaries that have left us feeling inspired and ready to take on the world.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams is widely known as one of the best documentaries of all time, and with good reason. The film tells the story of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school. If you’re into March Madness, you’re probably the kind of person who can appreciate an underdog story. We follow along with their highs and lows as they adapt to an unfamiliar new social scene and chase their dreams of beating the odds to become professional basketball players.
The Short Game (2013)
This documentary tells the story of eight grade-school golf prodigies on the way to the Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst. These kids are both adorable and endearingly relatable as they go through the trials and triumphs of trying to master their sport. There’s some impressive cinematography and visual storytelling here that makes the tournament a genuinely exciting watch, but the life lessons that the young players learn from each other and in the difficulties of their journey to victory is what really makes this movie a gem.
The Other Dream Team (2012)
This film is lesser-known than Hoop Dreams, but it’s no less heartwarming. The Other Dream Team tells the incredible story of the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team, who filled millions of people with hope when their players overcame their intense struggle with the repressive Lithuanian government and became symbols of Lithuania’s independence movement.
In this multi-award-winner, four teenage boys with dreams of one day joining the NBA leave their basketball academy in Senegal and are transplanted to the foreign world of prep schools in the United States. It’s amazing to watch these young men go from the safety and familiarity of home to a new place. They push through tremendous barriers to make their dreams happen. They overcome academic hurdles, injuries, social isolation, and misconceptions about their culture, and along the way, they prove that hustle and inspiration know no borders.
If Barack Obama, Kobe Bryant, and Owen Wilson are all willing to sit down and talk for an hour about how much they admire you, it’s safe to say you’re probably a pretty special person. This is definitely true for NBA star Steve Nash. In this fascinating look into his life and influence, we get to see firsthand just what makes Nash such a powerhouse. He’s a player with the kind of toughness that led him to play with a broken nose, and also a multi-talented filmmaker, activist, and entrepreneur. Color me impressed.
Pumping Iron (1977)
You may not have heard of this one, but you’ve definitely heard of the guy that it turned into a household name: Arnold Schwarzenegger. This documentary about weightlifters in Europe (back when that was a tiny subculture rather than an inescapable meme) was made on a shoestring budget. When the filmmakers realized they didn’t have enough money to complete the film, the athletes they were profiling (including Schwarzenegger himself) stepped up to help raise money to finish it, and we got this sometimes bizarre but captivating film as a result.
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