So ESPN has announced their next slate of 30 fo 30 sports documentary series. I can't say I'm disappointed (except for maybe the U Part 2 that seems unnecessary) because there are so many good stories out there.
The announced series includes the 1989 Earthquake World Series, the Boston college game fixing scandal, Randy Moss, the Hernandez brother who left Cuba to both play in MLB and more.
This series has covered so many great stories, and many of these are up theres as the best documentaries ever made, not just about sports but overall. The Two Escobars comes to mind when you wonder about some of the best documentaries ever made.
some they have done have seemed repetitive or not as good, but none have been terrible. there has even been fake 30 for 30 trailers made that while a joke I'd love to see. Seeing the new list just makes me want more though, there are so many good stories to be told so if I can make a wish list and hope that someone at ESPN sees this and attempts even one of these, then here goes; here's 30 more ideas I'd love to see them do.
1. Who Needs Milk?
Promo line: What if I told you one time someone was willing to take their ball and go home?
The CART/IRL Split. There is so much to be said in this story, I'm very surprised ESPN/ABC hasn't tackled it especially since they still broadcast IndyCar. Tell the story of "The Split." So many characters, and a clear start and conclusion.
When the owner of the biggest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500, isn’t invited into the board for CART the organization that does the season of races; he finally decides to just start his own racing series. At the time the sport was so large that both sides packed 400k+ to their competing races on the same day. The U.S. 500 with the “professional” drivers had the amateur crash before their start, but after it finally got off, winner Jimmy Vasser uttered the famous “Who Needs Milk?” in victory lane which basically set the tone for how everyone felt about each other. Over time the fans got tired of it though, they just wanted it fixed and it showed in dropped attendance, but the owners had deep pockets and proved they could care less about the fans and took everything personal, they took the battle for over a decade including going to bankruptcy court rather than give up the fight. By the time it finally got back together in 2008, careers, attendance, TV ratings, technology, and competition had been severely damaged. Now it’s finally healing and moving forward.
2. Jamaica, They Have a Bobsled Team
Promo: What if I told you it was a night of drinking got Jamaica into the Winter Olympics?
Yes it was actually two Americans making a bet in a bar “I bet you I could get Jamacia into the Winter Olympics.” Most people sadly only know the movie Cool Runnings for the frame of reference to this actual good story, and sadly almost 95% of the movie is made up. About the only thing Disney got factually correct was that there was a Jamaican bobsled team in the Calgary Olympics.
That being said the real story is worth telling, they couldn't get any sprinters to work with them so they went to the Jamaican military to find willing competitors. Money was never an issue for these guys, they had backers. They had to do some qualifying competitions before Calgary. Also while its true the sanctioning bodies said they thought they should do more competing first, the teams in Calgary welcomed them with open arms. Sports on Earth did a great short documentary, it just needs to be further expanded to show how they really made it and competed well in 2 man bobsled (the only thing they originally planned on doing), and on the spot decided to go for the 4-man competition.
It can also touch on how teams were astonished at how well they did, realizing that there was a benefit to having real strong athletes push and go faster. They basically revolutionized the sport when most people originally thought it was a joke.
Promo: What if I told you there was a time before you could simulate every possibility of a football game?
Changing the game and the curse
4. The Man Who Invented Donuts
Promo: What if I told you a racecar driver could win back to back championships, and that might be the least impressive sporting feat on his resume?
The story of Alex Zanardi, not just his racing career but going on to win Olympic medals after losing his legs in a terrible crash.
5. War Games
Promo: What if I told you that war changed everything we remember about sports?
We often forget what really happened. Germans invent torch relay. American racism means we don't even congratulate Jessie Owens. Germans were happy, not mad about Owens, they even cheered him, but at the same time they dominated the games too. There's even a movie coming out now about Jessie Owens that is sure to play up the angle that he humiliated the Nazis, but its just not true, its American war popaganda that lives on to this day because we won the war. The germans dominated that Olympics, Owens was but a blip on the radar.
6. Wife Swap: Baseball Edition
Promo: What if I told you that 2 Yankees would never be remembered for anything they did on the field?
Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swap wives, families
Promo: What if everyone everywhere told your city to just give up, and you refused?
The story of the New Orleans as a city and Saints rebuild at the same time after people everywhere literally said they should both close up shop and give it up. The season they played in 5 different home stadiums, the owner finally "got it" and embraced the city, they got the island of misfit players, which fit the cities mentality and it finally worked.
8. “Danny Almonte”
Promo: What if I told you that an honest effort to teach our youth took a backseat to winning?
9. Ellis, D.
Promo: What if I told you an All-Star and World Series Champion would be remembered for those details second to what happened the night he pitched against the San Diego Padres?
Story of Dock Ellis. It looks like a documentary may have been made recently about this so I need to check it out but for those who don't know. Dock Ellis was a baseball player, a very good one, who fought for racial equality on "The Team That Changed Baseball" the first MLB starting lineup of all minorities, one who threw a no-hitter... apparently while on LSD because he didn't realize he had to pitch that night.
10. Vale Tudo
Promo: What if I told you once upon a time we decided to say "anything goes."
There really needs to be a documentary on the first UFC tournament, or the first tournaments before they because a proper sport with rules. There's tons of great bits and pieces like the fact they originally though of putting a moat around the ring, some fighters tried to sabotage each other, people pulling out at the last minute. One dude got entered because he happened to be in the hotel on the right night.
11. USA’s inability to win the World Baseball Classic
Promo: What if I told you that after inventing a game, we could never beat anyone at it?
That promo line could also be about England and the World Cup I suppose, but they did won a World Cup many years ago, we still can't win the WBC.
12. Tragedy and Triumph
Promo: What if I told you the unthinkable would happen in front of all our eyes, and then something unthinkable would happen again years later.
Monica Seles and her comeback
13. Gorilla Ball
Promo: What if I told you the game changed so much and so often that the players couldn't even keep up?
About the College World Series in the 90s and early 2000s which changed rules and formats so often and even eventually decided to leave Rosenblatt Stadium after a century. LSU dominated Gorilla ball which forced changed in bats, then pitches dominated, then the double elimination format was abandonded for4 the final game, then it wasn't, then it was again, and finally we got to the end solution of all rounds being double elimination and a full field of 64 teams.
14. “What’s in a name?”
Promo: What if I told you there are no Lakes in L.A. and no Jazz in Utah
Cover the 80s and 90s sports expansion and shitty stadiums. So many terrible stadiums were built in a rush to expand the sports and move teams to new cities and leaving old fans in shock and with old stadiums that are vacant. Now so many team moves are simply to give them back to where they originally were and fans are better.
See #3 in this list as an example
15. The 1997 Marlins
Promo: What if I told you a team could be constructed for 1 purpose and immediately done away with
Seriously we need to know more about how they literally bought a World Series and immeaditely disassembled all that work.,
16. Baseball’s steroid era
Promo: What if I told you that we'd ignore the obvious problem to chase happiness
Baseball's steroid era needs a proper documentary about how we all knew what was going on and ignored it because we like home runs. it should start with the Simpsons Mark McGuire bit "Do you want to know the truth, or do you want to see me hit a couple dingers?"
17. Carried Off
Promo: What if I told you history would always remember the moment, but never realize it was unecessary
Kerri Strug and the fact that she didn’t even have to do the last vault, not many people know this but her famous vault on 1 leg wasn't even needed for the US to win that gold medal, but thats hindsight. The documentary should really cover Bela Karosi frankly and gymnastics in general.
Other honorable m,ention ideas:
18. Malice at the Palace
19. The 1994 MLB Season
Strike doesn't happen we likely have aq Expos championship and they never move.
20. Bob Knight at Indiana
21. Iron Mike
The mans career does need to talk about his rise and fall largely due to Don King.
22. The Price of Rings
Athens, Beijing, Sochi Olympics, current issues, SLC bribing and the fact that Atlanta was the last private Olympics that didn't cost the public anything.
23. Trading Votes
SLC Olympic ice skating voting scandal, how it forever changed the scoring of multiple sports to go to point systems.
Promo: What if the fairy tale story we were told, didn't have a happy ending and actually never hapened?
Can we talk about the fact that Gabe Ruettiger made most of his story up and Disney bought it all. Joe Montana famously said the whole this was bullshit. And Ruettiger has since gone on to be arrested for fraud.. yet Rudy still gets to live as a great movie without a retraction.
25. Set Up and Close –
the advent of situational pitchers (7th 8th and 9th inning pitchers)
26. Lord Stanley’s Cup
Check out these great articles, how does this not deserve a documentary?
27. Changing History
Promo: What if I told you hollywood lied to you.
Why can’t Hollywood just tell us what happened about every true story sports movie. I'm a huge stickler for this because eventually people remember the story rather than the truth, just like Cool Runnings above, and the fact that Paul Revere never rode through town saying the British are coming,.
28. Dutch Dynasty
There needs to be a documentary about speed skating in the Netherlands
29. Cleveland Sucks
Not sure where this documentary ends since they never win a championship in anything,
30. Lords of the game
Promo: What if I told you that for over a decade the game almost didn't seem fair...
Since 2003 Wimbledon, 50 tennis majors have been contested... 42 of them have been won by 3 just men: Federer, Nadal and Djokovich. We need to wait but Djokovich is likely to keep this going and may beat Federer's major title record too.