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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

‘30 for 30’: Getting into the game

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Maria Gorecki
Maria Gorecki


What if I told you that sports are more than what happens on the field? Sorry, I always wanted to make my own “30 For 30” slogan. Anyway, people seem to forget that what happens on the field in sports is only half the story. While we see the scoreboard and the athletes putting their all into the games they love, have you ever wondered why they are doing so? Why was a particular game so important? You may know a player, but do you really know their story? Well, “30 for 30” are the documentaries for you! They are a series of documentaries highlighting interesting people and events in sports history, and I’m here to recommend some of my personal favorites that are beginner friendly if you are getting into sports, or want to know more about stories you already know!

“Survive and Advance”

Now that we’re fresh off March Madness, this story follows the 1983 NC State basketball team and their miraculous tournament run. With multiple comebacks and upsets against UNC with Michael Jordan, UVA with Ralph Sampson, and the “Phi Slama Jama” Houston Cougars featuring future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, NC State was one of the biggest underdogs ever. Led by head coach Jim Valvano, this story also focuses on his life before and after the 1983 season, along with the experience of multiple players, who learn how far their trust in each other can take them.

“The Four Falls of Buffalo”

How would you feel if you were only remembered for your greatest failures? This is the story of the 1990’s Buffalo Bills football team, who managed to make it to four straight Super Bowls and lose them all. This documentary focuses on our obsession with winning, how losing can overshadow one’s accomplishments, as well as how time can eventually heal all wounds.

“Four Days in October”

While it hurts to write about this as a Yankees fan, it is hard not to recommend the story of one of the biggest comebacks in sports history. It’s hard to win four games in a row and even harder to win four in a row against your arch rival… and a curse. Those were the odds against the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Over four consecutive days and nights, they miraculously won four straight games down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS (American League Championship Series) to overcome the odds and reach their first World Series in 86 years. Behind the scenes footage lets you accompany the players and coaches through those four days and witness baseball history as they make it.

“Of Miracles and Men”

One of the biggest upsets in sports history at the height of the Cold War, a group of college athletes represented Team USA in hockey and took down the heavily favored Soviet National team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. We think we know the whole story, when in reality we know only one side of it. This documentary follows the story through the eyes of the Soviet National team, made up of good men who truly loved the game thanks to their passionate coach, Anatoly Tarasov. The actions of their country overshadowed these men, forcing them to live with a certain guilt following their loss to the U.S.

“Catholics vs. Convicts”

In the fall of 1988, #4 Notre Dame would play #1 Miami in what would be remembered as one of the greatest games in college football history, all thanks to the story behind it … including a shirt. Tradition versus swagger, Lou Holtz versus Jimmy Johnson and Tony Rice versus Steve Walsh. This game had it all, and it all came together due to one shirt made by Notre Dame students with the saying, “Catholics vs. Convicts.” Director and Notre Dame alumni Patrick Creadon looks back on the game, the story behind the two programs and how the shirt not only stained both schools' reputations, but also crushed the dreams of the student who made it.