Monday, April 19, 2010

ESPN's "30 for 30" Documentary Series...

ESPN has a "30 For 30" series currently running that features some pretty amazing sports-based documentaries that has something for everyone. I will be highlighting some of the more interesting ones here and updating this post as I go through them all.

1) THE U
Director-Billy Corben

Yessir, these cats were the baddest group of brothers to ever stomp a gridiron. And they did it THEIR WAY. They weren't just winners-they were the vanguard of a colossal paradigm shift in college football. It wasn't just the trash-talking and the celebratory antics after every touchdown and defensive stop-it was the sheer athleticism, the relentless, maniacal drive, the offensive pro style passing attack that had never been seen in college football up until then.

Damien Berry reps his set, The University of Miami-

At that time Florida had more Division I college recruit signings per capita than any other state, and in 1979 coach Howard Schnellenberger made it his mission to cordon off a wide sector of the state and declared that he and his staff would do everything in their power to keep these top-notch recruits from being poached by other programs, especially those out of state. His plan worked.

But it wasn't just the talent of the players, it was their backgrounds that were just as important to the success of "The U". Supremely talented athletes from inner-city, poverty-stricken backgrounds have the bad reputation of being undisciplined and uncoachable. Arrogant, gifted, flamboyant and supremely self-confident, these players introduced a new breed of athlete to the world of college football.

Here come the Hurricanes-

Harnessing this type of energy took some very special people indeed, and during it's prominence "The U" hired coaches that were in tune with the zeitgeist of the times. From Schnellenberger, to Jimmy Johnson to Dennis Erickson, the football team amassed 4 national championships between 1983 and 1991, and along the way changed the game forever.

2) The Two Escobars

Directors-Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist

"Narco-Futból" in Colombia during the 1980's and 90's consisted of the big drug barons owning their own soccer teams. These thugs were able to buy the best players in the land, and they did not take losing very well. It wasn't enough to have the players, they had to be assured of wins. It wasn't only their vanity and prestige that was on the line, it was also big money in terms of payoffs and gambling that made for a very nerve-racking and ultimately deadly mix.

I have no idea what type of individual would be able to go out and perform under such pressure. What is even more mind-boggling are the refs, who were almost always paid off by one side, uncaring of the fact that people from the losing side would inevitably come looking for them. To me these guys were the craziest of them all. But I digress.

Events came to a head during a match pitting heavily favored Colombia against the United States in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Adrés Escobar inadvertently kicked the ball into his own goal, and many believe he was murdered in Colombia for this heinous act. Rumor has it that after ever bullet fired (Escobar was shot 12 times) the gunman yelled "Gól!!!"

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