Ten top sporting documentaries to check out in 2022

Looking to add to your sporting fix in 2022? Of course, there are plenty of exciting events coming up this year, from the Winter Olympics to all the regular favourites.

By Duncan Browne
Friday, 31st December 2021, 7:00 am
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen offer insight into the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 season in ‘The Last Dance’
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen offer insight into the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 season in ‘The Last Dance’

But if you can never get enough sports action then why not re-live some fascinating stories by watching some of these excellent documentaries...

The Two Escobars

Quite simply the standout offering from the brilliant ESPN 30 for 30 series, the two Escobars charts the intertwined lives of two men with the same surname from Medellin in Colombia. Andreas Escobar was the footballer whose own goal against the USA in the 1994 World Cup triggered a chain of events which lead to his untimely death. Pablo Escobar, the world's most infamous drug lord, was a backer of his local team at a time when the influx of drug money into the sport was attributed to the rise of Colombian soccer.

‘Senna’ is a documentary exploring the 10-year career of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna


Icarus arrived by accident... but you'll be glad it did. Filmmaker Bryan Fogel set out to explore doping in an amateur cycling race and chancesd upon an international scandal when he becomes friendly with Russian Grigory Rodchenkov. In 2017 Icarus won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


This 2010 documentary explores the 10-year career of Formula 1 star Ayrton Senna, from 1984 until his death in 1994. Senna focuses on his battles on and off the track, showcasing the complex dynamics of skill and politics it takes to remain at the top. The Brazilian won the championship three times before his death at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Graham Taylor’s bid to get England to the 1994 World Cup is featured in the documentary ‘An Impossible Job’

The Last Dance

The sports documentary, if not the documentary, of the past few years. Over 10 hour-long episodes The Last Dance mixes previously unseen footage of the Chicago Bulls' 1997-98 season, Michael Jordan's final one with the team, as they aim to win their six championship, and second threepeat, hopping back in time to build a picture of how the Bulls went from a laughing stock to the greatest basketball team on Earth. Insight is given by star names such as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Jordan himself.

Dogtown and Z-Boys

The Zephyr surf team were a rag-tag bunch of kids who just loved to hit the waves in California's Santa Monica and Venice. But what do you do for the rest of your day when the best time to be in the water is the morning? You get your adrenaline-fuelled kicks by skating. This documentary charts the rise of some of boarding's best-loved breakthrough characters, from the days they'd break into a back yard and try new moves in a drained swimming pool to international fame, exploring how their surf skills allowed them to redefine skating.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Hollywood actor Bing Russell - the star of many Westerns, and father of star Kurt - grew up a baseball devotee. In the 1970s he decided to put together his own minor league team, the Portland Mavericks. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is the story of the club's five years in existence and how they shook up the system with their uncompromising ways and unique team. The film, made in 2014, features Russell junior reminiscing about the days he found himself by the diamond on the Pacific coast.

Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos

During the 1970s the New York Cosmos went from a soccer club training of battered old pitches to a club playing at the Giants Stadium. The convinced Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and outspoken Italian Giorgio Chinaglia - among others - to pull on their shirt. This is the story of their amazing rise and some of the controversies which came along the way.

Fire In Babylon

This 2010 offering is a British documentary about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team on the 1970s and 1980s. Charting how the side progressed from entertaining individuals to the dominant cricketing force, many of those who were there at the time share their stories. Viv Richards, Deryck Murray, Michael Holding, Clive Lloyd and Colin Croft are among them.

Hoop Dreams

Regarded as one of the best sports documentaries, Hoop dreams is the antithesis of The Last dance. The latter charts players at the top of their game, Hoop Dreams follows two promising African American high school students from Chicago as they attempt to follow their dreams of making it in the pro game. An unlikely commercial success, the film made almost $12 million at the box office.

An Impossible Job

The inspiration for the Mike Bassett movie, this documentary follows Graham Taylor as he attempts to take England to the 1994 World Cup. One controversial decision, and some poor performances, meant that didn't happen and Taylor left his job at the Three Lions. A brilliant insight and thoroughly entertaining.