Five women-in-sports documentaries to tide you over until ESPN’s “Nine for IX”


For the network’s 30th anniversary, ESPN ran the 30 for 30 series of documentaries about sports, athletes, and events that took place over ESPN’s first thirty years. The network won a 2010 Peabody Award for the series ( if the first thing you thought of was “Helena or Peggy?” then congratulations, you’re gay).

As part of ESPN and’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, ESPN will be airing documentaries in a series called Nine for IX. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series of films made by female filmmakers will air beginning in July of 2013. The specific topics for the documentaries have not been announced except that they will all be related to Title IX.

Because July 2013 is really far away, we have chosen five sports documentaries that should hold you over until next year.

A Cinderella Season follows the Lady Vols of the University of Tennessee during their 1997 season. It’s impossible to talk about women’s sports over the last 40 years without talking about Pat Summitt. After the team took home the 1996 NCAA Championship the Vols were a favorite to repeat until the season started going awry.

Unmatched, from the original 30 for 30 series, is a look at the rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova that spanned 80 matches and 16 years. For more than a decade these two players ruled women’s tennis; from 1975 to 1986 one of the two players held the number one ranking in tennis. Despite their apparent differences in style, temperament, and personal lives the two players have become lifelong friends. Unmatched allows us to watch as the two players talk to each other about the rivalry and what it was like to be a part of it.

The Heart of the Game follows Seattle’s Roosevelt High School Roughriders basketball team. The team is coached by a University of Washington professor who helps the high school team improve from a bottom of the league team to a contender for championships. The team produces a star player, Darnella Russell, who struggles on and off the court to achieve her goal of attending college on a scholarship. The only warning I have is that you will probably cry when you watch it, I certainly did.

If you love soccer and enjoyed the Women’s World Cup last year you should watch Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. The documentary follows the team from its humble beginning through the rise of Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain’s iconic celebration after her penalty kick sealed the 1999 Women’s World Cup victory.

Finally, No Look Pass follows lesbian basketball player Amy Tay from her senior season at Harvard to Germany where she pursues playing basketball professionally. The movie strikes a balance between sports documentary and coming of age story as it follows Tay’s basketball career and her personal life which involves dating an American soldier in Germany despite Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and struggling with her parents’ expectations for her, which include marrying a rich man.

These five documentaries should help tide you over until ESPN brings us Nine for IX next summer. What documentaries do think we should be watching while we wait?

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