COVID-19: Five sports-related shows to watch during lockdown

From Drive to Survive to Game Changers, we look at five sports-related shows and docuseries that sports fans can watch during COVID-19-enforced lockdown.

Published : May 03, 2020 10:52 IST

Netflix streams many of the fans' favourite sports-related shows and docuseries
Netflix streams many of the fans' favourite sports-related shows and docuseries

Netflix streams many of the fans' favourite sports-related shows and docuseries

With the entirety of world sport either cancelled or postponed thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, the only source of ‘action’ for fans is either old, recorded games or movies and docuseries.

While broadcasters hold the right to most games and most of them not eager to put all of their content for public-access, the latter make the best and easiest viewing for fans.

Here’s Sportstar ’s list of the best sports-related content one can stream online:

Formula One – Drive to survive (Netflix)

Two seasons have been filmed and released so far, covering the 2018 and 2019 Formula One championships. What is interesting about this series is that this was a one-of-a-kind viewing experience for fans of the sport and the rest of the world.

Formula One is a complex, technical sport and one that cannot be understood overnight. For example, there are 10 different kinds of flags the stewards use to communicate with the drivers on the track. And once you get into the setup of cars and the different specifications, it will feel more like a lesson in physics than a sport.

Read: Old heroes thrive while F1 giants hop on Netflix bandwagon

And that is where the series triumphs. It has been packaged as a drama, showing raw human emotions and making sure to skip/simplify the technical jargon that might put viewers off. While what happens on the track is also shown, it is the off-track parts that take up deep into the multiple storylines that keep unfolding before, during and after each campaign.

That the series has attracted new fans to the sport is an understatement.   

Andy Murray: Resurfacing (Amazon Prime)

While most documentaries are filmed during a person or team’s rise to their best, this series goes against the norm. If it was filmed in 2016, when the Brit won the Olympic gold, Wimbledon, lost two Grand Slam finals (Australian Open and French Open), won the ATP World Tour Finals, won three Masters 1000 titles among others. It was Murray at his effortless best and on top of the world – looking and playing like he belonged alongside Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

However, Resurfacing is about the turbulent times that followed and begins around January 2018. It starts with the hip surgery in Australia that was expected to help him return by Wimbledon, the evident discomfort as he returns to the court and the aborted comeback a few months later. Then there’s the second operation and more emotions pour out.

Read: A timeline of Murray's debilitating injury

If the producers went ahead with the idea of showing the struggle of an athlete making his return, they got more than they bargained for. Murray’s battle with fitness hit several lows, with the emotions – not all sad – captured as well as they could. A lot can also be written on Murray’s candour, humour and more but that’d only serve as spoilers.

What we can say is that the series ends like most Hollywood movies – on a very happy note. The redemption story is completed with his first tournament win since that operation Down Under.

The Test: A New Era for Australia's Team (Amazon Prime)

Sandpaper. Steve Smith. David Warner. Cameron Bancroft. Australia.

Cricket fan or not, those were the keywords most heard – and discussed – in 2018. Australia, the then World Champion, was found guilty of ball-tampering. It was caught on live television, the sport took a big hit Down Under, bans were swiftly issued and one of the dominant nations in the sport was left to rebuild its image from scratch.

Read: Sandpapergate to Ashes glory and everything in between

While most fly on the wall sports documentaries fail to capture emotions and tensions beyond the positive ones, Amazon was allowed to be present to record everything - be it triumph or failure. 

In eight parts, it shows Australian cricket in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, the return of the banned players, an interesting 2019 World Cup campaign and retaining the Ashes away from home.

Losers (Netflix)

Stories of people winning are well documented. What did they do right? How did their lives change after the win? The answers to that, and more, are always available. But what about those who do not reach the top? Winning is everything in our society, so what about the losers?

Read: What are the right criteria to pick the tennis GOAT?

This eight-part series is neither a tear-jerker nor a Greek tragedy. It deals in empathy and shows people learning from failures.

It doesn't show you fairytale endings either, because life isn't one. However, in each part, you are left with a success story being built from the failures. Each episode teach you that life does not end when you lose — it just gets refashioned.

Game changers (Netflix)

“Someone asked me How could you get as strong as an ox without eating meat? and my answer was: have you ever seen an ox eating meat?” 

This documentary is, in short, about the benefits of plant-based diets for athletes. And it is a lot more interesting than it sounds.

The film introduces you to well-known athletes who speak for it, puts out research findings that favour the idea and it is all well packaged to catch your attention for close to 90 minutes.

From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Lewis Hamilton via athletes from across the world of sport, you are told about the many advantages of sticking to a plant-based diet and why meat can be skipped entirely.

Read: Please maintain lane discipline: The rule changes in motorsports

However, keep an open mind while watching this as it can – in some parts – feel like an exercise in trying to get the idea across by hook or crook. It shows you a vegetarian fighter (Nate Diaz) getting the better of Conor McGregor and it is packaged in a way where the message seems like it was solely the diet that helped him win. It talks of Roman gladiators being vegetarians but there is no research to back up the link between their diet and their famed fighting skills. There is a lot more but this isn't an in-depth review so the debunking ends here. 

If there is a lot wrong with it, why watch it? The show is an education in how to build up an idea (vegan lifestyle, in this case) and use cherry-picked statistics and data to prove the point. And it is also a reminder to always have your thought process going; not everything doled out to you by famous people on a screen is true.

How can a normal viewer find out what statistics used are right or wrong? Well, you need not. What you need is Google and not a scientific mind. Everyone involved in the documentary is invested in the vegan game. Director James Cameron is a founder of Verdient Foods, which is pro plant-based protein food. There’s that amorphous phrase again. Hamilton, owns the Neat Burger chain of restaurants, which is fully plant-based. Several featured athletes have either given TED talks about this lifestyle or worked extensively with animal rights group PETA. 

Eat your greens, but not because someone told you to.

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