‘The 99ers’ (2013) a unique insider view of 1999 USWNT

ESPN Nine for IX logo

I almost passed up watching The 99ers on my ESPN+ subscription, because I thought I had already ‘seen it all’ about the 1999 USWNT. But what a mistake if you miss watching this episode of the espnW Nine for IX series. IX in this case refers to Title IX, which required that colleges provide equal funding for womens and mens sports. 

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ESPN falls flat with ‘Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy’ (2014)

ESPN 30 for 30 logo

It’s hard to believe that Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour franchise, put together the worst ESPN 30 for 30 segment that I have seen. Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy covers all the facts, but the production is flat, and the importance of the artifact is blown way out of proportion. It’s almost facetious. It’s not the Holy Grail, it’s a small piece of metal of a woman holding up a cup. It’s not even gold.

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Setenta y Sete (2017): a fine piece of reporting

E60 logo

Setenta y Sete is an ESPN TV documentary on the Nov-2016 plane crash that killed 71 of 77 passengers and staff traveling with the Brazilian Chapecoense team to Medellin, Colombia. The E:60 segment was originally broadcast in Jun-2017, but it was slightly updated and re-broadcast during WC 2018. I assume the update was meant to coincide with the Fox Sports release of Nossa Chape, directed by the Zimbalist brothers.

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US Soccer history should not forget ‘Redemption Song’ (2016)

Redemption Song (2016)

Redemption Song is an important piece to watch on US soccer and Afro-American history. It is the true story of the Howard University all-black Mens Soccer team, compressed into a woefully short 16 minutes.

The team won the 1971 NCAA championship, only to see it perhaps unjustly vacated and the team put on probation. To prove their excellence, the players fought back to win the NCAAs again in 1974.

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Still seeking justice in the ‘Ceasefire Massacre’ (2014)

Ceasefire Massacre (2014)

The goal of Ceasefire Massacre is to raise awareness of a 1994 mass shooting in Northern Ireland which remains unsolved, likely due to a police or government coverup.

This short documentary is an ESPN 30 for 30 TV episode that aired just before the 20th anniversary of the Loughinisland Massacre. Like the ESPN film Hillsborough, this episode interviews victims seeking justice. But sadly the film can only raise questions, because without a legitimate investigation, there are no answers.

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‘The Opposition’ (2014) – Chile’s national stadium used for torture

ESPN 30 for 30: The Opposition (2014)

I watched The Opposition last year but didn’t write about it because the film was so disturbing. This ESPN 30 for 30 TV episode documents how General Pinochet’s junta tortured and killed dissidents. They used the Chilean national stadium as a prison while the team prepared to qualify for WC 1974.

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Ossie Ardiles between England and ‘White, Blue and White’ (2014)

30 for 30: White Blue White (2014)

White, Blue and White is an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that examines the effect of the Falklands War on Argentines Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. After winning WC 1978* in Buenos Aires, they are recruited by newly promoted Tottenham to become the first Argentines to play in the England First Division.

They are wildly successful until Argentina’s ruling junta invades the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in 1982. Ossie’s fighter pilot cousin is killed in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

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The horror and coverup of ‘Hillsborough’ (2014)

30 for 30: Hillsborough (2014)

It’s fitting to review the ESPN film Hillsborough today, the 26th anniversary of the April 15, 1989 soccer stadium disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died from suffocation and crush injuries.

Director Dan Gordon is especially emotionally invested in this film because Hillsborough was his team’s home stadium, and he could easily have been one of the young people inside.

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‘The Two Escobars’ (2010) explains narco-fútbol

ESPN 30 for 30 logo - The Two Escobars (2010)

For its 30th anniversary, ESPN commissioned 30 respected filmmakers to produce 30 documentaries on the impact of sports on society. 30 for 30: The Two Escobars is the fascinating story of player Andrés Escobar and druglord Pablo Escobar.

Andrés Escobar, captain of the Colombian national team, gave up the own goal against the USA in the 1994 World Cup and was shot to death 10 days later in his hometown.

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