Five Sports Documentaries You Need to Watch (If You Haven’t Already)

Sport provides a form of escapism for billions worldwide, often producing drama you would expect to find in a soap opera script.

So often, it is the story behind the scenes that carries the true theatre. In this article, we list five sporting documentaries that we feel offer the greatest insight into the stories behind the trophy winners that simply cannot be missed.


David Beckham is one of the most recognisable names on the planet, inside and outside of sport. This Netflix documentary chronicles the rise of the former Manchester United midfielder, the backlash he received following England’s exit at the 1998 World Cup, his redemption, winning the treble, and his moves to Real Madrid and LA Galaxy.

Even if you think you have watched and read all that can be said about Beckham, this is a must-watch for any football fan. In case you are one of the few still yet to see this much-talked-about docuseries, add it to your watch list without delay.

The Last Dance

Released in 2020, this documentary featured on many a sports fan’s watch list during the pandemic, and for good reason. The Last Dance focuses on the Chicago Bulls, specifically Michael Jordan and his domination of the NBA in the 1990s.

The series features interviews with Jordan as well as his teammates such as Scotty Pippen, and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. The Last Dance gives a tremendous insight into the winning mentality that Jordan possessed that ultimately pushed him to become one of the greatest of all time.

Sunderland ‘Til I Die

Whereas Beckham and The Last Dance focus on success, Sunderland ‘Til I Die is a far grittier story set in Wearside. Three series of the documentary have been released, the latest of which was in February 2024, documenting the Black Cats’ promotion to the Championship.

The first series, released in 2018, followed the behind-the-scenes goings on at the football club and what was expected to be Sunderland’s fight for an immediate return to the Premier League after relegation the season prior. Instead, the series captured the fallout of second successive relegation as Sunderland dropped to the third tier of English football for the first time in 30 years.


Bucking the trend of this list, Senna is not so much a documentary as it is a live-action drama recounting the events of the great Ayrton Senna’s life and death. The three-time Formula 1 world champion was a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the track, and his tragic death in 1994, aged only 34, robbed the world of one of its greatest-ever sportsmen.

Senna, released as a feature-length film, comprises archival race footage and home video clips provided by the Senna family to tell the story of the Brazilian’s 10 years in F1. Even if you aren’t an avid fan of motor racing, you won’t feel that you have wasted 106 minutes watching this BAFTA-winning documentary.

Alex Higgins: The People’s Champion

A floored genius, Alex Higgins was to snooker what George Best was to football. The Hurricane, for all his natural talent, is one of the most iconic and important figures in snooker history, helping to catapult the sport into the mainstream in the 1970s and 80s.

The People’s Champion documentary was released in 2010 shortly after Higgins’ death and it provides an insight into the showman’s life on and off the table. The highs and lows of Higgins are covered in this documentary, featuring contributions from Jimmy White, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Dennis Taylor and Barry Hearn.

Do you agree with our recommendations or have we made a glaring omission? Let us know in the comments section or on our social channels.

By Aaron Gratton

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