Last Updated: March 20th
Live sports might be the last thing keeping streaming options from swallowing cable television subscriptions whole. And those barriers are beginning to fall, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of sports content currently on Netflix. In fact, you should have a long list of good sports movies available to watch should your favorite teams have the night off.
While shows like Glow are great for sports fans looking for a slow burn, the best place to start is movies and documentaries. From Netflix originals to classic documentaries and ’90s nostalgia, the Netflix catalog has a little something for everyone. There’s even a bit of romance on the list.
Let’s take a look at the best sports movies Netflix has to offer.
15) The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)
Run Time: 80 min | IMDb: 8.0/10
Did you know Kurt Russell’s dad owned a baseball team? And Kurt played on it? The saga of the scrappy Portland Mavericks is not the most well-executed film on the list, but it’s lovingly done and the archival footage carries the day here. If you’re curious, in need of a true underdog tale, and want to add a bit of baseball trivia to your brain, this might be for you.
14) Iverson (2014)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 7.0/10
This 2014 documentary — which debuted at Tribeca a few years ago — takes a look at the career of former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson and the perception that many had of him. The film is a satisfying nostalgia trip for AI fans but it doesn’t introduce a wealth of new footage or offer anything new about The Answer. It’s still better than watching him in the BIG3, though.
13) The Short Game (2013)
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
This 2013 documentary is a delightful look at a youth golf championship. Chronicling the 2012 championship at Pinehurst, it follows a handful of charming golf proteges from around the world as they vie for the title of best 7- and 8-year-old players in the world. Golf greats like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Annika Sörenstam provide commentary on the difficulty and drama of the game while we watch young golfers deal with the stress of the tournament, parents, and some nitpicky rules. It has its fair share of Sports Parent moments, but the kids are genuinely interesting and full of character.
12) Mascots (2016)
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 5.8/10
Christopher Guest’s absurd Mascots features Guest mainstays Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey and Ed Begley Jr. It also co-stars Chris O’Dowd as a mascot called “The Fist,” which is a hockey-playing hand with a six-pack that can give the crowd the finger.
The joy of Guest’s movies is that these super weird and specific subcultures like the mascot world really exist. It makes you realize it’s possible that the fringe people in your life are as much into being a mascot as they are into Garfield or seltzer or whatever entirely earnest secret Facebook group you’re a part of that you never knew existed. While crude at times, Mascots doesn’t make fun of these people as much as it humanizes them in an entirely relatable way.
11) The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (2019)
Run Time: 30 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island crew return for a parody on notorious baseball stars Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire in this visual rap album set in the Bash Brothers’ 1980s heyday. Taking inspiration from Beyonce’s Lemonade, this “visual poem” sees Samber rapping in character and recruiting some famous friends to impersonate popstars — Sterling K. Brown does a mean Sia performance. There’s plenty of baseball references to keep sports junkies happy, and if you don’t care about the sport, you’ll at least be laughing the whole way through.
10) Ali (2001)
Run Time: 157 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Will Smith’s turn as Cassius Clay isn’t the best boxing movie on the list, but it’s still an engaging take on one of the most extraordinary sporting lives in recent memory. Muhammed Ali is known for his bold statements and lightning-quick skills on the mat, but Ali is about much more than recreating sports highlights. This Michael Mann film covers Ali’s life between 1964 and 1974 and does as much to chronicle his life as the social climate that he endured during his rise to boxing infamy. Smith is predictably great here, and anything that gets close to the actual swagger and eloquence that Ali had during his life is worth giving another look.
9) GLOW: The Story Behind The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (2012)
Run Time: 76 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
If you liked the Netflix original, it’s worth watching the documentary that covers the history of the real show. It’s a good look at what the show is based on, and the interviews with the women who made up the show’s cast allow for a fascinating story about wrestling in the ’80s. It’s also a serious look at the physical toll wrestling takes on its competitors.
8) The Carter Effect (2017)
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Produced by LeBron James’ Uninterrupted, The Carter Effect made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. It was fitting, as the movie is a loving homage to Carter and basketball in Canada’s largest city. Carter changed the game when he started his career with the Raptors in 1998, and he put Toronto on the basketball map in a way it had never been before. Interviews with Drake and Carter himself anchor a fascinating look at basketball in a hockey-first land. It’s a weighted look at how Carter’s swagger and style influenced a city and an entire generation of Canadian basketball talent, smartly executed by director Sean Menard.
7) The Dawn Wall (2018)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
The Dawn Wall isn’t Solo, which just won an Oscar for best documentary earlier in 2019. But there are a lot of stories to tell about El Capitan. One of climbing’s most famous landmarks was conquered by Alex Honnold without any ropes, but Tommy Caldwell’s story of triumph is every bit as compelling. Produced by Red Bull Media House, the climbing legend’s quest to chart a new path up the peak in Yosemite National Park is as fascinating as it is harrowing.
The film won the Audience Award at SXSW’s film festival, and it tells an amazing story that covers Caldwell’s extraordinary biography as well as the most intense climb of his life. The documentary is a great look at the world of climbing, and is visually stunning. It also does a great job of illustrating just how difficult his climb up The Dawn Wall was, and the way it was experienced by the rest of the world.
6) Goon (2011)
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Goon is the Slap Shot of this millennium, in that it’s utterly ridiculous and also somehow wildly entertaining. In the film (which spawned a recently released follow-up), Seann William Scott plays bruising bouncer Doug Glatt, who is brought onto a hockey team to do one thing: pound the opponent’s face in.
Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg (of Superbad fame) co-wrote the film with Baruchel appearing on camera as Doug’s foul-mouthed friend. Allison Pill also co-stars as Doug’s love interest, but it’s Liev Schreiber who steals the show as a veteran enforcer and rival. There’s even a cameo from Georges Laroque. If you can take the brutality of fighting in hockey, you’ll love this film.
5) Any Given Sunday (1999)
Run Time: 150 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Any Given Sunday has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it contains one of the greatest movie speeches of all-time. The “inches we need” speech alone will make you feel like you can barrel through a brick wall uninjured, and it’s worthy of your attention. There’s also some former NFL players giving surprisingly strong acting performances here, such as Lawrence Taylor as essentially himself. It runs a bit long, and (maybe) a more modern retelling of this story cuts a bit of that fat, but it’s certainly worth watching if you’ve never seen Al Pacino play a gritty football coach. This story takes place in an era of football that we’ve evolved past in some ways, but not at all in others.
4) Space Jam (20xx)
Run Time: 87 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Listen, Space Jam is not really a great movie. When you take away the nostalgia for it and a banger of a soundtrack, much like The Mighty Ducks, the bones of the plot are a bit bare. But it’s hard to hate a movie that puts Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny with equal billing on a movie poster. There’s a reason LeBron James has been hounded for years to make a sequel to this 1996 blockbuster: people love the idea of the best player in the game getting sucked into a cartoon vortex. If anything, it’s still the only logical explanation for Jordan deciding to play baseball for a few years.
3) Raging Bull (1980)
Run Time: 129 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
The biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta is a brutal sports classic, and one of Robert De Niro’s best performances. The Martin Scorsese-directed film won a pair of Oscars, including De Niro as the violent lead who used his temper in the ring to become a champion but let it destroy everything else in his life outside the sport. It’s considered one of the best sports movies ever made, and for good reason.
2) Icarus (2017)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
This Oscar-winning documentary dives into the world of doping in competitive cycling. Netflix bought the distribution rights to Icarus after a strong showing from director and co-writer Bryan Fogel’s film at Sundance. The documentary plays out as a thriller, with Fogel chasing the truth about cycling cheats and stumbling onto a major International doping scandal. Watch as a chance meeting with a Russian scientist turns a story that started as a simple experiment into a geopolitical thriller and one of the biggest scandals in cycling history.
1) Miracle (2004)
Run Time: 135 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Everyone knows the story of the 1980 United States men’s hockey team that takes down the Soviet Union during the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. That might be the thing that makes Miracle such a delightful movie: Despite the fact that everyone knows how it ends, it’s still a captivating film, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat by telling the story behind the team that won gold. This is the case even though you know that when the clock hits zero against the Soviets, you’re going to hear Al Michaels give arguably the most famous call in sports history: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”