ESPN Announces New Slate of ‘30 for 30’ Films: Which One Looks Most Promising?

by 8 years ago

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m. – Broke (Billy Corben)

Official Synopsis: “Broke explores the roads to fortune in American sports and eventually, the many detours to bankruptcy. Bernie Kosar, Andre Rison and Cliff Floyd are among the athletes who talk openly about the challenges of managing their money in an era when big contracts don’t necessarily support bigger lifestyles. Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders and saddled with medical problems, many pro athletes get shocked by harsh economic realities after years of living the high life. A story of the dark side of success, Broke is an allegory for the financial woes haunting economies and individuals all over the world.”

Our take: This one looks like the most promising, mainly due to the director, Billy Corben, who did “Cocaine Cowboys” and “The U,” the best installment of “30 for 30'”s first season. (He also directed “Square Grouper,” which we highly recommend.) 

“Broke” will take on a subject that has been discussed a lot in recent years—why former athletes go broke so often—but instead of just looking at one case, like a Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now” profile, this promises to look at the overall issue. This hasn't been done enough. No. 1 must-see on our list.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m. – 9.79* (Daniel Gordon)

Official Synopsis: “The 100-meter men’s final at the 1988 Seoul Games was the fastest and perhaps most thrilling sprint in Olympic history. But within 48 hours, gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids, and scandal reigned. This one race still haunts the eight men who took part. But what brought them to the starting line? And what happened to them since?”

Our take: The issue with this story is that it's a subject only those who remember the 1988 games will really care about. The 100-meter record has become so overshadowed by Usain Bolt that Johnson is a distant memory, plus aren't we a little tired of steroids stories? No. 6 on our list.

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 pm. – There’s No Place Like Home (Maura Mandt and Josh Swade)

Official Synopsis: “On December 10, 2010, Sotheby’s auctioned off the most important historical document in sports history—James Naismith’s original rules of basketball.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 this seminal American artifact at auction and bring the rules “home” to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for more than 40 years.”

Our take: This seems like a doc that lacks the grand ambitions of the rest of the films. Quirky has its place on “30 for 30,” but let's just we're not going to fall over ourselves to see this one. We've got it at No. 5 on the list.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m. – Benji (Coodie and Chike)

Official Synopsis: “In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago: a beloved, sweet-natured youngster from the city’s fabled South Side, and America’s most talented basketball prospect. His senseless murder the day before his senior season sent ripples through Chicago and the nation.”

Our take: We had never heard this tragic story, but it sounds like it'll be a terrific doc that you never want to see again (much like “Once Brothers” last season). Sometimes, you need to see films like that. No. 4 on our list.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. – Ghosts of Ole Miss (Fritz Mitchell)

Official Synopsis: “In 1962, the University of Mississippi campus erupted in violence over integration and swelled with pride over an unbeaten football team. Mississippi native Wright Thompson explores the tumultuous events that continue to shape the state 50 years later.”

Our take: Wright Thompson is one of the best and most accomplished long-form sportswriters alive today (for proof see here and here). He writes a lot about the complexities of the South, sometimes too sentimentally, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt before seeing this. Should be a fascinating pairing between narrator and subject. No. 3 must-see.

Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. – You Don’t Know Bo (Michael Bonfiglio)

Official Synopsis: “Bo Jackson hit 500 ft. home runs, ran over linebackers, and—for a small window—he was the best athlete we had ever seen. You Don’t Know Bo is a close look at the man and marketing campaign that shaped his legacy. Even without winning a Super Bowl or World Series, Bo redefined the role of the athlete in the pop cultural conversation. More than 20 years later, myths and legends still surround Bo Jackson, and his impossible feats still capture our collective imagination.”

Our take: BroBible HQ was the scene of a fierce argument a week ago about who is the best pure athlete of all time—and it came down to LeBron James and Bo Jackson. Finally, the LeBron advocates had to relent. There's just never been anyone quite like Bo. It's time he got the “30 for 30” treatment. No. 2 must-see.

When March Went Mad

The above synopses came from a press release, but we unfortunately couldn't find any news about “When March Went Mad,” other than the Jimmy Valvano clips in the above trailer. We'll have to wait and see on this one.

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