I’m not a sports fan, but I dig sports movies. You sit me in front of an actual team sporting competition of almost any stripe and I’ll probably be looking at my phone within minutes. You put on The Club or North Dallas Forty or Hoosiers or Bull Durham or Any Given Sunday, and I’m in. Sports work as drama because at least one set of stakes are clearly defined: who’s gonna win and who’s gonna lose? It’s an easy hook—and even if you can’t tell the AFL from the NFL or League from Union, it’s easy enough to grok.
Sports documentaries can give you the best of both worlds: actual (albeit historical) competition and a narrative crafted to milk that competition for maximum drama. This gives us the conflict on the field and the personalities off, exploring how the latter informs the former, often with a good dose of social commentary thrown in for good measure: think When We Were Kings or Hoop Dreams. And perhaps most relevant here, the one-two punch that was The Australian Dream and The Final Quarter, two films that looked at AFL player Adam Goodes’ battle against racism in the game and the crowd.
You can do a lot in this corner of the doco space, using sports to explore all manner of issues. This is Port Adelaide’s thesis, however, is that the eponymous club is very good and very old and has many dedicated fans. And that’s it.