MTV should take a lesson from ESPN. While the faux music channel airs reruns of stale teen flicks, ESPN’s 30 For 30 series continues to impress with documentaries that we actually give a damn about. Tins already expressed his appreciation of “The U,” while also suggesting new topics for future installments. What Tins didn’t suggest was this week’s latest doc, “The Two Escobars.” I enjoyed watching “The U” but this recent film about Colombian futbol and its ties to the drug trade tops my list of the ESPN series.
If you’ve never heard of Pablo Escobar, Hip-Hop fans would at least be aware of the surname Nas took on as a persona during his It Was Written days. But unlike the rapper, Pablo Escobar was the real deal and amassed a fortune ($9 billion in 1989) while collecting a tally of dead corpses along the way. What many people may or may not know about Pablo was his involvement in Colombian Futbol. Serving as a Robin Hood-type figure to the poor in his country, he gave money, built churches and provided fields for the kids. Many of these young players later grew up to play for his club Atletico Nacional and for the 1994 World Cup squad.
On Monday night, the feature aired on the 16th anniversary of that team’s upset loss to the USA, where Colombian team captain Andres Escobar (no relation to Pablo) accidentally scored in his own goal. Picked as the favorite that year to win it all, Andres Escobar’s blunder prevented Columbia to shed its label of violence and drugs. Ten days later, Andres Escobar was murdered in his hometown.
If you needed further proof that futbol was the most popular sport in the world, this film dispels any arguments. With Pablo Escobar’s murders of referees, riot-like matches and legendary movies like Rene Higuita’s “Scorpion Kick,” this is by far the best 30 For 30 film to date.
Directed by brothers Jim & Michael Zimbalist, the film will be aired on ESPN’s various networks (schedule of listings here) until August if you didn’t get a chance to catch it the first time around.