Pygmy Reviews #34 – Sports Documentaries

Benji (2012)

One Line Description: The life and death of Chicago high school basketball star Ben Wilson.

Despite growing up in Chicago, I was not familiar with Ben Wilson. This was a great look at Wilson’s rise and untimely fall. Wilson went to Simeon where current and future NBA stars Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker also went. He also played alongside future NBA player Nick Anderson. Wilson was comparable to current NBA player Anthony Davis. Wilson was a hero around the city, and his death was felt throughout the community. The most amazing part of this documentary was the fact that there are interviews with one of the men charge with Wilson’s death. This is a must see for any Chicago sports fan.

Ghosts of Ole Miss (2012)

One Line Description: A look at the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962 and the impact on the football team.

Interesting story about a historic events in Mississippi, but the sports tie-in was a little thin. A story just about the integration would have been great, but spinning this as sports documentary was a little weak. It was interesting though, and the football team was undefeated. It was well put together though, and did a good job of showing how racial issues tied in to the history of the school. Not one of the best 30 for 30 documentaries, but still good.

You Don’t Know Bo (2012)

One Line Description: The story of Bo Jackson, two sport superstar.

Bo Jackson was an absolute freak of an athlete. He dominated both football and baseball both in high school and college. He also became prominent two sport athlete in history to that point. Jackson is remembered as a superhero of sorts, but the truth is he hadn’t really reached elite status in either sport. He never played more than 11 football games in a season, and therefore never hit the 1,000 mark. His average yards per carry were OK, but he was stuck behind Marcus Allen for a while. Despite having some power, Jackson had issues making contact, and again couldn’t play full seasons. This is a great documentary but it’s careful to stick with the allure of Jackson as opposed to being honest about a lackluster (albeit injury-shortened) pro career.

From Elway to Marino (2013)

One Line Description: The story of the 1983 NFL draft with a focus on John Elway and Dan Marino.

The 1983 NFL draft was absolutely loaded. Eight NFL Hall of Famers1 went in this draft. Six QBs went in the first round: Elway, Marino, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien. They combined for 11 Super Bowl appearances. This doc focuses mostly on Elway and his refusal to play for the Baltimore Colts. It was really interesting to see all the teams that almost traded for Elway, and even more crazy to see Marino fall to the end of the first round behind guys like Blackledge, Eason and O’Brien. This is one of the most interesting 30 for 30 films yet, particularly for NFL fans who are too young to know how crazy this whole draft was.

  1. Counting 2014 inductee Reggie Roby []