You’re doing it all wrong tweeting @IthacaCollege saying, “Give us a snow day” and “It’s so cold out.” It’s time to embrace the winter and accept that pizza, couches and blankets are necessary comfort items. Turn off “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and stop complaining about the weather. Instead, watch one of these sport documentaries that are on Netflix or HBO Go and are actually worth your time.
“Undefeated” — This film won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2012, so if you don’t trust me, at least listen to the Academy. The documentary follows a high school football team in Manassas, Tenn., in 2009 along with its head coach Bill Courtney. In the film, Courtney’s quote speaks to the harsh reality of inner-city football: “Starting right guard — shot, no longer in school. Starting middle linebacker — shot, no longer in school. Two players fighting right in front of the coach. Starting center arrested. I think that sums up the last two weeks for me.” It’s similar to a “Friday Night Lights” story, but more revealing.
“Senna” — This is the best-crafted documentary I have ever seen. The absence of a main narrator lets the video and story speak for themselves and ultimately leaves the viewer stunned by how powerful sports can be. A three-time World Champion Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna transcends his sport, becoming a mystical figure as people in Brazil call him a saint. But don’t worry if you don’t know who Senna is. When he hits a wall on live television in front of 300 million people, you feel like knew him and just got punched in the gut.
“The Crash Reel” — You know who Shaun White is, right? The famous redheaded dude blazing through the air on a snowboard at the Winter Olympics. Well, this documentary is about Kevin Pearce, the man who was White’s biggest competition for 15 years, and it chronicles his illustrious snowboarding career and rivalry with White. But that is only the beginning. Pearce’s life changed forever when he tried a new trick and slammed his face on a halfpipe. This film is more than just winter sports; it’s about an athlete’s unrelenting passion and perseverance through injury.
“The Two Escobars” — I could honestly list multiple “ESPN: 30 for 30” films, but this one covers both sports and drug trafficking: drug lord Pablo Escobar, the Medellin Drug Cartel and Columbia’s 1994 World Cup team are just a few examples. You will walk away wondering how these events actually happened just 20 years ago.
“Sport in America: Our Defining Stories” — You know that aunt who questions why you love sports? Sit her down and watch this one together. It encapsulates how sports are able to profoundly impact people’s lives. It covers legends such as Roberto Clemente and depicts scenes of a Boston graveyard the night the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. Frank Deford, six-time Sportswriter of the Year, sums up the film by saying, “Sports don’t stop wars, but sports diminish the problems of the world. And that ain’t bad.”