Sports for Dummies: 5 meaningful programs to pique sports dialogue

Ashley Potts

It’s been a bit of a boring week, sports dummies. There weren’t any Colorado State basketball games, the Colorado Avalanche lost again and nothing really caught my attention for a #HotTake. Those are all ways of saying the semester is starting to catch up to me, and inspiration has been hard to come by.

I did what any of us would do when feeling stressed and uninspired: I turned on the TV. But I was sick of watching reruns of “Friends.” I wanted some TV entertainment that felt useful. I ended up tuning to ESPN and seeing a commercial for the new season of “E:60,” the weekly Sunday show that “shows why sports matter.” I got into a rabbit hole of inspiring sports content, watching a number of “E:60” stories as well as quite a few “30 for 30” and “Nine for IX” documentaries. Here are a few of my favorites I figured I’d pass on.

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1. “Nine for IX: The 99ers”

As a former soccer player, this story is always a favorite of mine. It’s the story of the 1999 Women’s World Cup; hosted in the United States, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was playing in the final.

It was a breakthrough for women’s sports, with more than 90,000 fans having attended the final game where the U.S. won in a shootout over China.

The beauty of this telling of the well-known story is that it’s made up of footage filmed by Julie Foudy on the team bus, on the sidelines and behind the scenes. It’s told from the perspective of the women who made history, making an inspiring story even more profound.

2. “30 for 30: Of Miracles and Men”

We’ve all heard the story of the “Miracle on Ice.” The underdog team U.S.A. defeated the four-time gold medalist Soviet Union hockey team in the 1980 Olympics.

But of course, as Americans, we’ve always heard it as a story of overcoming the bad guys in the midst of the Cold War. We know it as a story of glory and overcoming. We’ve never heard, or even considered, the other side of the story.

This time, we get to hear the story from the former enemy’s mouth, and it’s an interesting take on sports, politics and loss.

3. “30 for 30: Seau”

Contact sports are dangerous, and as a nation, we’ve been talking about it more.

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Junior Seau was a famous professional football player who committed suicide due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a form of traumatic brain injury caused by repeated blows to the head or concussions, which is all too common in football.

CTE causes many symptoms beyond those of individual concussions, such as issues with thinking and memory and changes in personality such as aggression and depression. This is a topic that has started to gain more public attention as sad stories like this come out across many contact sports.

The documentary gives an inside look at the story of Seau and how a lovable father deteriorated into a verbally abusive man who took his life as a result of physical trauma from his football days. 

4. “Nine for IX: Let Them Wear Towels”

This one hits a more personal note for me, but is also important to consider for the general public.

This documentary dives into the issues of equality facing women in sports media. It’s namely about female sports reporters being allowed into locker rooms for post-game interviews, but also the general obstacles facing women trying to break into the “boys club” of sports journalism. 

5. “Always Late with Katie Nolan”

This one isn’t an inspiring documentary, but more of a typical sports talk show. This one is inspiring because of who Katie Nolan is.

Nolan is a veritable sports expert and doesn’t let anybody forget it. She makes a lot of jokes, but they’re all grounded in her deep knowledge of sports and the sports world she’s worked in for years. The show is like “Sports Center” meets “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and honestly, it’s just a good lighthearted watch when you’re a sports fan in a funk.

Ashley Potts can be reached at sports@collegiain.com or on Twitter @ashleypotts09.