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Best Sports Shows/Movies on NetFlix Instant

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterAugust 27, 2014

Best Sports Shows/Movies on NetFlix Instant

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    YouTube

    As a sports fan, it's hard to fathom that I ever existed during a time when nearly every event, movie or program wasn't virtually available on demand.

    However, there's no question I did—and my battered, but glorious, 1990-1991 Pittsburgh Penguins season highlights VHS tapes (One From The Heart) prove it. 

    Before the era of streaming, online content, suckers like you and me had to find a friend with a satellite dish, or an obsession with taping on-air programming, if we wanted to watch a game, movie or program that wasn't on a network, ESPN or one of the movie channels.

    Even if you had cable, you were at the mercy of the programming schedule.

    Back then, you had to wait—wait for Christmas or a birthday...or a package in the mail. Often, you even had to wait for some jerk to return an overdue movie.

    Then the 21st century gave the sports fan the greatest gift of all: streaming content that didn't alternate between unbearable pixelation or unbearable buffering. And no service better symbolizes this turn of events than Netflix.

    With NetFlix, waiting was replaced with an overly ambitious queue and sports-related entertainment available anywhere, anytime.

    These are the best sports shows and movies on NetFlix Instant.

The Longest Yard

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    Release Date: 1974

    Genre: Comedy 

    Average Rating: 3.6 Stars 

    The terrible Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard does the Burt Reynolds original no favors with those not old enough to have seen the '70s classic first. If you’ve only seen the Sandler version, watching the original would go a long way toward getting that bad taste out of your mouth. 

30 for 30: Straight Outta L.A.

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    Release Date: 2010 

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 3.8 Stars

    The Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 before moving to Oakland in 1994. Though they were only in LA for 13 seasons, rapper Ice Cube’s documentary Straight Outta L.A. tells the story of the dramatic cultural impact the team’s presence had on the city’s hip-hop scene and the impact the scene had on the team. 

Blue Mountain State

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    YouTube

    Release Date: 2010 to Present 

    Genre: Comedy

    Average Rating: N/A

    Airing on Spike TV, Blue Mountain State, which is about a fictional university’s football team, is pretty much the opposite of Friday Night Lights. But what it lacks in drama it more than makes up for in gross-out humor, binge drinking, sex, drugs, partying and bullying. 

Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks

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    Release Date: 2010 

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 4.2 Stars 

    The Pacers and Knicks had quite the rivalry back in the early-to-mid '90s, with the usually unassuming and affable Reggie Miller becoming cartoonishly villainous while playing against New York. The film focuses on the Pacers victory in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, with commentary from director Spike Lee, who became Miller’s unexpected target while sitting courtside in Game 6. 

Prefontaine

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    Release Date: 1997

    Genre: Biographical Drama 

    Average Rating: 3.6 Stars 

    Jared Leto is great as Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, who competed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and died tragically young in a car accident three years later. Maybe it’s because Leto was just coming off My So-Called Life, but this movie never got a fair shake. 

Knuckeball!

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    Release Date: 2012

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 3.9

    The documentary Knuckleball! focuses on the one mysterious pitch that’s “confounded batters and extended pitchers’ careers,” with commentary from a number of players and coaches, both past and present. It’s a little bit of a niche movie, but exactly the kind of thing a hardcore baseball fan appreciates. 

The Mighty Ducks

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    Release Date: 1992

    Genre: Family, Comedy-Drama 

    Average Rating: 3.5 Stars 

    A classic underdog story with equal parts humor and heart, The Mighty Ducks was actually savaged mercilessly by condescending and snobby critics upon its original release. Not that it mattered. It’s even more beloved today than it was back then and requires re-watching every few years. The third in the trilogy is also available but not recommended. 

Dogtown and Z-Boys

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    Release Date: 2001

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 3.7 Stars

    Dogtown and Z-Boys tells the story through first-person interviews of California’s Zephyr skateboard team, a group of teenagers who revolutionized the sport forever by introducing edgy moves inspired by surfing. It inspired the film Lords of Dogtown, which was released in 2005. 

Major League

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    Release Date: 1989

    Genre: Comedy 

    Average Rating: 3.7 Stars 

    One of the great comedies of the '80s, Major League is one of the few movies from the decade that actually stand the test of time. Aside from some shoulder pads and impressively big hair, it’s damn near timeless and over two decades later doesn’t seem the least bit dated. 

The Endless Summer

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    Release Date: 1966

    Genre: Documentary 

    Average Rating: 4 Stars

    Endlessly meandering and surprisingly compelling, The Endless Summer follows two of the world’s best surfers as they chase waves from Hawaii to Australia to Africa, all in search of the perfect ride.

Eight Men Out

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    Release Date: 1988

    Genre: Period Piece, Drama 

    Average Rating: 3.7 Stars 

    An underrated classic starring John Cusack, with a very impressive supportive cast, Eight Men Out tells the story of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. Do yourself a favor and skip re-watching Field of Dreams for the billionth time and give a new-old movie a chance. 

WWE: The Top 100 Moments in Raw History

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    Release Date: 2012

    Genre: Chronicle 

    Average Rating: 3.9 Stars

    Netflix is loaded with great retrospectives for casual wrestling fans. Although this sort of thing isn’t great for hardcore fans of WWE or people who hate it blindly, The Top 100 Moments in Raw History and The History of the WWE are perfect for anyone testing the waters of this entertaining subset of the sports world. 

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

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    Release Date: 2013

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 3.9 Stars

    Boxer Muhammad Ali is one of the most fascinating characters in sports history, which makes almost anything with him as a central player worth watching. The Trials of Muhammad Ali chronicles his fight to overturn a five-year prison sentence, which he was slapped with for refusing to fight in Vietnam.

30 for 30: Catching Hell

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    Release Date: 2011

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 4.1 Stars

    Although we never hear from the man himself in the film, Catching Hell’s humane and decent treatment of Steve Bartman shines a very bright light on our own lack of humanity when it comes to sports. Bartman shouldered much of the blame and a barrage of bad publicity after the Cubs choked themselves out of the 2003 NLCS, but he was singled out of a much larger group of fans who supposedly interfered with the ball and potentially cost them the game. 

30 for 30: Broke

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    Release Date: 2012

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 3.8 Stars 

    Have you ever wondered how so many athletes go bankrupt within years of retirement? The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke explores just that. And does so in a way that allows athletes to tell their stories, without allowing them to shirk responsibility for the roles they played in their own circumstances. 

Rocky IV

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    Release Date: 1985

    Genre: Sports Drama 

    Average Rating: 3 Stars

    Since all the Rocky movies are currently available, this one is a matter of personal preference. Every fan of the series has his or her favorite—usually one of the first three. But for me, it just doesn’t get any better than Rocky Balboa single-handedly avenging the death of Apollo Creed and defeating the evil Ivan Drago in 15 bruising rounds.

    The Soviet Union would come crashing down a few years later—coincidence? Not a chance. 

Benji

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    Release Date: 2012

    Genre: Sports Documentary 

    Average Rating: 4.2 Stars

    Benji tells the story of the real-life tragedy of Ben Wilson, a teenage basketball star from the South Side of Chicago. During his senior year in high school, Wilson was shot to death after an altercation devolved into gunfire on a Chicago street. The top high school basketball player in the country’s life and future full of promise snuffed out in a heartbreaking instant. 

    Also worth a watch? Hoop Dreams. 

Happy Gilmore

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    Release Date: 1996

    Genre: Comedy

    Average Rating: 3.9 Stars 

    Despite all the cinematic plagues Adam Sandler has released on the public over the last decade, we always seem to forgive him because of his early movies like The Wedding Singer and, of course, Happy Gilmore. The latter is the hilarious story of a terrible hockey player who is dragged kicking and screaming into the world of golf, where his brash style doesn’t exactly fit in on the pro tour. 

Friday Night Lights

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    Release Date: 2006 to 2010

    Genre: Drama

    Average Rating: 4.1 Stars

    Critically acclaimed and beloved by a hardcore fanbase, Friday Night Lights followed the trials and tribulations of a small-town Texas football team and its coach. For some reason the show struggled to find an audience during its run and had to fight for every episode that aired after the first season, which makes its five-season run all the more remarkable. 

Goon

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    Release Date: 2011

    Genre: Sports Comedy 

    Average Rating: 3.9 Stars 

    Goon has yet to find a wide audience, probably because its plot line is pretty similar to that of another famous hockey movie, Slap Shot. That being said, this film is not a cheap knockoff and is surprisingly hilarious. Honestly, it’s at least as good as Slap Shot

The League

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    Release Date: 2009 to Present 

    Genre: Comedy 

    Average Rating: 4.2 Stars

    FX captured lightning in a bottle with the cast of The League, a comedy that takes you inside the lives of the people in the fantasy football league of your dreams. Going into its sixth season, the show has been attracting bigger and better guest stars—many of whom are superstar NFL players—with each passing year. 

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