8.5
203 votes
30 for 30

30 for 30

ESPN 2009

Inspired by ESPN's anniversary, ESPN Films is launching 30 FOR 30, an unprecedented documentary series featuring 30 of today's finest storytellers telling thirty remarkable stories from the ESPN era. On their own, each of the films will be an intimate look at a specific story, relevant to larger themes from the modern era. Collectively, these films will be a diverse mosaic of what sports has meant to American and World culture in the last thirty years. Each storyteller will bring their passion and personal point of view to their film detailing the issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.

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The 10 Worst Episodes of 30 for 30

30 for 30 - S3E31

#1 - Qualified

5.29

Season 3 - Episode 31

For many, the name Janet Guthrie won’t ring a bell. It didn’t for me which added to the mystery of this 30 for 30 installment. This is one of the very few instances where I went in totally fresh, as in I didn’t watch the trailer, the name didn’t ring a bell, and I didn’t see any commercials, posters, or press materials. Given Guthrie’s career was short and ended nearly 40 years ago, I suspect her story will be new to many viewers like it was to me. Qualified chronicles Guthrie’s brief, but distinguished racing career, and centers around her efforts to qualify and finish the Indy 500. The film is greatly aided by — and leans considerably on — utilizing Guthrie to tell her own story, which she does in a very measured and stoic manner. What really makes Qualified pop is the extensive amount of vivid racetrack footage that gives the film a pretty immersive feel. For sports doc aficionados, this closely mirrors the excellence of Senna, which also is jam-packed with footage (which once again makes me wonder how and why such a stirring amount of footage was taken at the time). Both films are like a carton of cookie dough cream, in which you open it up and are delighted to find damn near two thirds of the container is cookie dough.

The episode was rated #1 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 7 votes.

30 for 30 - S2E3

#2 - There's No Place Like Home

6.64

Season 2 - Episode 3

On December 10, 2010, Sotheby’s auctioned off the most important historical document in sports history: James Naismith's original rules of basketball. There’s No Place Like Home is the story of one fan’s obsessive quest to win the artifact at auction and bring the rules "home" to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for more than 40 years.

The episode was rated #2 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 22 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E19

#3 - Little Big Men

6.68

Season 1 - Episode 19

On August 28, 1982, Cody Webster and a small group of schoolyard friends from Kirkland, Washington, sat anxiously in a dugout waiting to take the field for the championship game of the Little League World Series. Their focus was just about what you’d expect from any 12-year-old: hit the ball, throw strikes, cross your fingers and then maybe – maybe – you’ll win. Adults in the stands and watching from home saw a much broader field of play. The memories of American hostages and a crippling oil crisis were still fresh; the economic malaise of the late 1970s still lingered; and the new President was recovering from an assassination attempt even while confronting new threats from the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, back on that tiny baseball field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where America’s game was celebrated each summer, no American team had won a true international Little League World Series Championship in more than a decade. When the Kirkland players rushed from their dugout that day, they stepped onto a much bigger field than the one they saw. What they did, how they did it, and what happened to each of the players in the years that followed is a multi-faceted story. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Al Szymanski will examine what became of a group of childhood teammates when the high point in their lives occurred before their lives had really begun.

The episode was rated #3 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 34 votes.

30 for 30 - S3E32

#4 - The Good, The Bad, The Hungry

6.72

Season 3 - Episode 32

A look at one of the biggest rivalries in sports, that of competitive eaters Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut.

The episode was rated #4 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 18 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E22

#5 - The House of Steinbrenner

6.74

Season 1 - Episode 22

Love them or hate them, the Yankees remain the most glorified team in American sports history. Led by the Babe, the Iron Horse, the Yankee Clipper and the Mick, they dominated baseball for more than four decades before the legendary franchise sagged under the ownership of CBS. Then in 1973, a 42-year-old shipbuilder named George Steinbrenner, a man now as iconic to his team as the pinstripes on its uniforms, headed a group that purchased the Yankees, and turned that investment into a billion-dollar business. Since 1923, the ‘House that Ruth Built’ has been the epicenter of the baseball world, and its team the biggest sports attraction in the Big Apple, inspiring generations of fans to maintain loyalties through good times and bad. But with a deteriorating facility and an eye towards 21st century style revenues, Steinbrenner was inspired to build an impressive new stadium. While the Yankees kept their Bronx address at 161st and River Avenue, the new ballpark marked the end of one grand era with the hope of launching another. Two time Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple will look at the New York Yankees as defined by George Steinbrenner’s enduring legacy, and will tell a story of how a $10-million dollar investment changed the face of not only a storied franchise, but an entire sport.

The episode was rated #5 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 34 votes.

#6 - Angry Sky: The Legend Of Nick Piantanida
6.83
Season 2 - Episode 30

At the height of the space race, Nick Piantanida had a dream and a reach that far exceeded his grasp: He would climb to the edge of the atmosphere and break the free-fall parachute record.

The episode was rated #1 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 18 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E11
#7 - Silly Little Game
6.89
Season 1 - Episode 11

Fantasy Sports is estimated to be a $4 billion dollar industry that boasts over 30 million participants and a league for almost every sport imaginable. But for all this success, the story of the game’s inception is little known. The modern fantasy leagues can be traced back to a group of writers and academics who met at La Rotisserie Francaise in New York City to form a baseball league of their own: The Rotisserie League. The game quickly grew in popularity, and with the growing use and attractiveness of the Internet, the “founding fathers” never foresaw how their creation would take off and ultimately leave them behind. Innovative filmmakers Adam Kurland and Lucas Jansen will chronicle the early development and ultimate explosion of Rotisserie Baseball, and shine a light on its mostly unnoticed innovators.

The episode was rated #2 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 56 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E14
#8 - Straight Outta L.A.
7.00
Season 1 - Episode 14

In 1982, Raiders owner Al Davis beat the NFL in court and moved his team from Oakland to Los Angeles. With a squad as colorful as its owner, the Raiders captivated a large number of black and Hispanic fans in L.A. at a time when gang warfare, immigration and the real estate boom were rapidly changing the city. The L.A. Raiders morphed into a worldwide brand as the team’s colors, swagger and anti-establishment ethos became linked with the hip-hop scene that was permeating South Central Los Angeles. Rapper-turned-filmmaker Ice Cube was not only witness to this evolution, he was also a part of it. As a member of the notorious rap group N.W.A, Ice Cube helped make the silver and black culturally significant to a new generation and demographic. Still a die-hard Raiders fan, Cube will explore the unlikely marriage between the NFL’s rebel franchise and America’s glamour city and show how pro football’s outlaw team became the toast of La La Land.

The episode was rated #3 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 53 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E28
#9 - Marion Jones: Press Pause
7.00
Season 1 - Episode 28

Few athletes in Olympic history have reached such heights and depths as Marion Jones. After starring at the University of North Carolina and winning gold at the 1997 and '99 World Track and Field Championships, her rise to the top culminated at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. There she captivated the world with her beauty, style and athletic dominance, sprinting and jumping to three gold medals and two bronze. Eventually, though, her accomplishments and her reputation would be tarnished. For years, Jones denied the increasing speculation that she used performance-enhancing drugs. But in October 2007, she finally admitted what so many had long suspected -- that she had indeed used steroids. Calling herself a liar and a cheat in a federal courtroom, Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for lying to federal investigators and soon saw her Olympic achievements disqualified. Now a free woman, Jones is running in a new direction in life and taking time to reflect. Director John Singleton will focus on the rise, fall and re-birth of Marion Jones.

The episode was rated #4 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 36 votes.

30 for 30 - S1E21
#10 - Unmatched
7.06
Season 1 - Episode 21

The first time Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova stepped onto a tennis court together, the world scarcely noticed. Only a few hundred spectators saw the pert 18-year-old beat the scrappy 16-year-old Czech in 1973. “I remember that she was fat,” Evert recalled. “She was very emotional on the court, whining if she didn't feel she was playing well. But I remember thinking, if she loses weight, we’re all in trouble.” Said Navratilova, “My goal was for her to remember my name.” Eighty matches later – amid the extraordinary growth of women’s tennis – Evert not only remembered, but became a tried and true friend and confidante, remarkable considering the two appeared to be polar opposites in upbringing, life styles and personal relationships. Through a series of personal conversations, filmmakers Nancy Stern and Lisa Lax, along with producer Hannah Storm, will tell the story of one of the greatest one-on-one sports rivalries and capture these two extraordinary athletes’ views on tennis and an ever-changing world.

The episode was rated #5 Worst episode of 30 for 30 from 34 votes.

Last updated: feb 06, 2021

Comments

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Best sports documentary series in my lifetime. Must see if you're into sports and docs. Even episodes I have no interest in the topic are entertaining. Good behind the scenes insight.

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