Netflix got to be where it is today — the biggest streamer in the world, with a best-in-class user experience and staggeringly massive content library — by offering its users almost every kind of streaming entertainment they could possibly want. From the prestige drama of The Crown to dumb reality shows like Love is Blind, as well as local content that goes on to find success around the world, the streaming giant is basically the Amazon of streaming.
Inside of live sports, Netflix has so many great sports docuseries
That’s not to say, of course, that Netflix truly offers everything imaginable. Live sports, for example, is perhaps the biggest piece of content still missing from the pie. But even there, Netflix still offers a replacement of sorts — in the form of sports docuseries, something the company keeps offering users more and more of.
From snapshots of sports that range from golf to basketball to professional racing, the Netflix docuseries you’ll find listed below are some of the best of the best. They offer moments of thrilling victory, devastating defeat, and a look at the grueling hours of practice and prep that turn ordinary players and competitors into legends that endure.
The Last Dance is the name of both a 2020 Netflix sports docuseries, as well as the label that former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson gave to the effort, in the fall of 1997, wherein the Chicago Bulls attempted to win a sixth NBA title in eight years.
This was the heyday of the Michael Jordan era — but, as Netflix explains, the team’s quest is overshadowed by “tension with the club’s front office and the overwhelming sense that this was the last time the world would ever see the greatest player of all time, and his extraordinary teammates, in full flight.” Needless to say, this Netflix series is the perfect homage to a truly unforgettable season of professional basketball.
This next Netflix sports docuseries — which, to me, has always felt way more underrated than it deserves — is sort of like a real-life version of Ted Lasso (in the sense of an underdog team, not unlike AFC Richmond, relying mostly on grit, determination, and love of the game).
The 2-season Sunderland ‘Til I Die introduces an underdog football club that has way more spirit than glory, finds itself relegated to the bottom rungs of English football, and fights like hell to get back into the Premier League. And honestly, I can’t praise this docuseries enough, because of everything from its celebration of ordinary people fighting against long odds to the theme song alone that helps you appreciate the team’s (and the town’s) incredible spirit. “Not many people have had it easy in Sunderland,” viewers are told at one point. “It is a hard place.”
Sunderland ‘Till I Die is about a group of football players and fans who understand and acknowledge that it’s the hope that kills you, but they still choose to believe anyway. Because their little town, they realize, is better off holding on to something together, like a beloved football club, than existing disconnected from each other — every man for himself.
From the official Netflix synopsis of the latest season of this 5-season sports docuseries: “Offering unprecedented access, this new season will once again take fans behind the scenes to witness first-hand how the drivers and teams prepare to battle it out for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
“The series will offer never-before-seen footage and interviews from the sport’s biggest names. Formula 1: Drive to Survive is executive-produced by Academy-Award winner James Gay-Rees (Amy, Senna) and Paul Martin (Diego Maradona) for Box to Box Films.”
In this 4-episode docuseries, director Daniel Gordon takes viewers beneath the surface of the FIFA organization — where the series finds a toxic mix of corruption and power struggles casting a shadow over the organization.
Indeed, we come to learn that FIFA has faced accusations over the years involving everything from money laundering to tax evasion and wire fraud. The organization is even compared at one point during the series to a “criminal organization.” “For decades,” Netflix’s logline for FIFA Uncovered explains, “FIFA united the globe through football. But behind the game, craftier schemes were at play.
“This documentary series traces the organization’s legacy, exploring the pageantry, power struggles, and politics of hosting the World Cup.”
In this next Netflix sports docuseries, director Greg Whiteley and BBC Studios Los Angeles take viewers inside the wrestling ring. Wrestlers is focused on Louisville, Kentucky’s Ohio Valley Wrestling — a regional gym whose alumni include stars like John Cena and Dave Bautista. It’s an old-school gym, which still follows a “storytelling” approach to wrestling, but it’s fallen on hard times and is struggling to remain relevant.
The biggest fight, in other words, unfolds outside of the ring, and viewers are treated to an emotional and rewarding story about a sport that looks kind of unserious from a distance — but which is still pursued with a deep and abiding love by wrestlers who dream of glory.
The same team behind Netflix’s Formula 1 docuseries is also responsible for Break Point, a 10-episode series that follows a group of tennis players on and off the court as they compete in tournaments around the world.
“Their dream: lifting a trophy and becoming number one,” explains the official Netflix synopsis. “As some of tennis’ legends reach the twilight of their careers, this is the chance for a new generation to claim the spotlight. Break Point gets up close and personal with these players over a year competing across the globe in the ATP and WTA tours. From career-threatening injuries and emotional heartbreak, to triumphant victories and personal moments off the court, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the pressure-tested lives of some of the best tennis players in the world.”
The final Netflix sports docuseries on our list follows a group of pro golfers as they play during competition season, and we follow their grueling schedule each week on the PGA Tour.
This series is all about showing viewers what it takes to succeed at the sport’s highest level — and this is also the first opportunity that cameras have gotten to go behind the scenes and follow players during events that include the Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, US Open, The Open Championship, and the FedExCup Playoffs.