ESPN’s 30 For 30 Documentaries Are My New Favorite Thing On Netflix

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m totally hooked on ESPN lately.

Well, not ESPN per say, but ESPN content. Their 30 for 30 documentary series, to be specific. (THEY ARE SO GOOD!)

If you’re not familiar with this concept, ESPN worked with several great directors to compile a collection of sports-related documentaries. And the great news? They’re ALL available on Netflix now! (And there are more than 30, so get excited.)

Even though I’m not a sports person (I don’t follow sports, although I love going to live games), I do get a little obsessed with the Olympics, and I think I love these 30 for 30 documentaries for the same reason: the stories behind the sports. I LOVE learning about athletes’ families, their training routines, their struggles, etc., during Olympics coverage, and these documentaries scratch that same itch by giving insight into the “behind the scenes” stuff. They add dimension to stories we’ve heard before. They bring in elements that are seemingly unrelated. They connect the stories to larger societal themes in compelling ways. In short: I’m a fan.

I’m by no means a 30 for 30 expert at this point and have actually just watched four of the documentaries so far, but I’ve loved all of them so much that I feel confident making a blanket statement about the series as a whole.

Having viewed these four, I can wholeheartedly recommend:


1. June 17, 1994: This film chronicles the day of O.J. Simpson’s famous car chase, telling the story not through interviews but through footage captured that day. I didn’t know that at the same time America’s eyes were glued to their TVs watching Simpson’s white Bronco cruise down the freeway there were also other major sports-related events going on (Arnold Palmer’s last round at a U.S. Open, the start of the World Cup in Chicago, the New York Rangers celebrated their Stanley Cup win, and the Knicks and Rockets faced off at the NBA finals). The movie weaves in footage from these events as well, showing how those commentators struggled to report on the sports events at hand but also keep viewers up to speed on the Simpson chase. Watch this ASAP — seriously.

the price of gold

2. The Price of Gold: Tonya Harding was a disadvantaged kid from Portland who was hell bent on having her name go down in history in the ice skating world. She got her wish, but not nearly in the way she’d expected, and this film adds more perspective to Harding’s journey. (You probably won’t change your opinion on her association with the Nancy Kerrigan attack, but you’re guaranteed to come away with a more dimensional view of Harding and her career.)


3. The Announcement: After watching this documentary last weekend, which highlights Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis and him telling the world about it, I am forever a Magic Johnson fan. (I wasn’t NOT a fan before, but this film gave me such insight into Johnson’s optimism and contagious charisma, and made me remarkably proud of him and the way he’d dealt with this life-changing news.)


4. Broke: What happens when a kid just out of college who’s never had any money to speak of becomes a millionaire overnight? Shocker: They don’t tend to manage their money wisely. This heartbreaking documentary spotlights professional athletes who once had it all — until they spent every cent.

Is anyone else as into these 30 for 30 films as I am? Which should I watch next?


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