ESPN may be a four letter word of resentment for some people, given their obvious bias towards large markets and certain sports (did you see the in-dpeth breakdown of the New York Jets punt game thing morning?). But they are revolutionary and they do occasionally do things that are pretty significant and — dare I say — award winning. After all you don’t become the worldwide leader in sports for nothing.
The latest thing ESPN has done to salvage it’s reputation among actual journalists surrounds it’s 30 for 30Â series which was started to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the network and was meant to cover 30 of the biggest sports stories since then.
Needless to say, it was a smashing success. Bill Simmons brought in actual filmmakers who actually know how to make a documentary and what they produced was pure gold and candy for the sports soul. From Peter Berg’s (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) and his documentary about Wayne Gretzky’s trade to Los Angeles to Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Cobb) and his documentary on Michael Jordan’s venture into the world of baseball, 30 for 30Â is some serious filmmaking.
So what do you do when something is a smash success? Well you continue it.
And that’s what ESPN is doing with 30 for 30. The network has announced the next lineup of films dubbed Volume II which will air starting October 2nd with a documentary titled BrokeÂ which explores the journey from rags to riches and then back to rags that many sports superstars have traveled.
The fun doesn’t stop there either as a new episode will air each Thursday until December 8th. Here’s a rundown of what to look for in ESPN’s 30 for 30 Vol. II:
October 2nd:Â Â Broke (Directed by: Bill Corben)
BrokeÂ explores the roads to fortune in American sports and eventually, the many detours to bankruptcy.Â 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 donâ€™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,Â BrokeÂ is an allegory for the financial woes haunting economies and individuals all over the world.
October 9th:Â Â 9.79* (Directed by: Daniel Gordon)
This Toronto Film Festival selection details the 1988 Seoul Olympics in which Ben Johnson and eight other sprinters turned in one of the most exciting and fastest races in history. But as it turns out, 48 hours after breaking a world record, Johnson was busted for using anabolic steroids and a scandal began. The documentary follows the men from the start of their 1988 journey, through the race and into the scandal that still haunts them today.
October 16th: Â There’s No Place Like Home (Directed by: Maura Mandt and Josh Swade)
Sports are a religion to the fans who follow it and nothing personifies that better than the story of one fan who traveled the country in pursuit of the holy grail: John Naismith’s original rules for basketball. This documentary follows that fan on that journey as he goes on a quest to bring home the rules of basketball to Lawerence, Kansas where Naismith preached his basketball gospel for 40 years.
October 23rd: Â BenjiÂ (Directed by: Coodie and Chike)
17 year old Ben Wilson was a symbol of hope in the tattered ghettos of Chicago. He was a basketball prodigy, the countries top prospect and was destined to shine a light to the gang ridden hell he had risen from and let children like him know that there was a way out. That was until he was gunned down and murdered in cold blood on the very streets he was trying to escape. This documentary follows Benji and his story, one the rocked Chicago and the sports community.
October 30th: Â Ghosts of Ole MissÂ (Directed by: Fritz Mitchell)
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.
December 8th: Â You Don’t Know Bo (Directed by: Michael Bonfiglio)
Bo Jackson hit 500 ft. home runs, ran over linebackers, andâ€”for a small windowâ€”he was the best athlete we had ever seen.Â You Donâ€™t Know BoÂ 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.