Pygmy Reviews #20: Sports Documentaries

Broke

One Line Description: A look at how athlete’s end up in financial dire straits.

Part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, this one is about athletes going, well, broke. It covered a range of athletes of varying success and income from various times over the last 30 years. It’s unclear who the target audience was for this, because most of it just made me angry about how frivolous, and dumb, athletes are about their purchases. While I understand these guys don’t have any experience managing money, it certainly wasn’t a ringing endorsement for intelligent professional athletes. Hopefully it serves as a very public warning for new pros.

40 Minutes of Hell

One Line Description: The story of former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson as he battle’s racism as his rise and fall from success.

Part of ESPN’s SEC Storied series, I knew very little about Nolan Richardson prior to this. I didn’t realize how long he had coaches at Arkansas, the fact that he was at Texas Western the year before their famous season or that he was basically the first African-American head coach at a major college program. I was aware of his great Arkansas team that beat Duke, but I did not realize the controversy that followed later. Great story about a coaching legend.

Going Big

One Line Description: The story of Sam Bowie.

More ESPN SEC Storied, this time about infamous draft “bust” Sam Bowie who was selected one spot before Michael Jordan in 1984. This documentary covers Bowie’s rise to high school stardom in a small Pennsylvania town, his decision to go to Kentucky, the ups and downs there, his numerous injuries, the infamous draft, his NBA career and his legacy. Really great insight into a guy that is known almost exclusively for being taken ahead of Jordan. My takeaway was that Bowie was just injury prone and incredibly unlucky. This was probably the best of this bunch of ESPN’s documentaries.

Croom

One Line Description: The story of former Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom, the first African-American head coach in SEC history.

Yet another SEC Storied. I had the opposite theory about Croom vs. Richardson, I actually thought Croom was a head coach much longer than he was. Croom’s significance, like Richardson, is definitely related to race. He was a starter at center for Bear Bryant at Alabama in the ‘70s, when African-American players didn’t play that position. He was an assistant for Bryant after that until Bryant retired, after which Croom was an NFL assistant for 15 years. After being passed over for the Alabama job in 2003 in favor of Mike Shula (oops), he was hired at Mississippi St. where he became the first African American head coach in SEC history. His tenure there ended prematurely, but Croom’s story was pretty interesting.

There’s No Place Like Home

One Line Description: A diehard Kansas basketball fan’s quest to bring the original rules of basketball to the Kansas campus.

Another on in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. This was one of the better documentaries, if only because I did not know the ending beforehand and was somewhat in suspense throughout. It had a really good feeling and flow to it and felt much more documentary-ish than some of the other ones in this batch. Very cool story. Lots of passion. One of my favorite so far. Anyone that is a sports fan can really appreciate this one.