Najee Murray, Ohio State DB, gives an interview after going in on offense for one play and making a catch for a long touchdown. (Flickr/Matthew Brady)

With the influx of sports documentaries like The Last Dance, The Playbook, Last Chance U and Drive to Survive, people are now getting a look at the athletes and what goes on behind the scenes through the lens of a camera.

According to an article by The Athletic in May 2020, the popularity of sports documentaries has increased in recent years because “people are hungry for the truth.”

Lauren Moerike, a fourth-year player on the St. Thomas University women’s volleyball team, likes the realistic standard set by the documentaries about how much time is focused on sports and the sacrifices they make.

“I had to give up other sports to continue playing volleyball,” she said.

Moerike said she also appreciates the amount of determination and commitment shown by athletes in the documentaries. She feels it helps people understand how difficult sports can be and the amount of effort that goes into them outside of an actual game.

She wants to see a documentary that brings awareness about sports nutrition.

“It needs to be explored better so we athletes can take care of ourselves better,” said Moerike.

For Adam McDougall, a third-year player for the STU men’s volleyball team, the sports documentaries also shed light on athletes and their personalities, which he feels is really humanizing.

“You’re able to shed light on these people and not even necessarily showing the mental difficulty, even just showing these people having fun playing out there,” he said.

With the success of these documentaries, they illustrate how the popularity of sports, and the awareness of others, can always grow.

McDougall said if Drive to Survive, a docu-series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship, wasn’t made he would never have become interested in the sport.

He soon developed a love for it and began following popular drivers, his favourite being Lando Norris of McLaren.

But McDougall said it’s also a learning opportunity as he watches for the professionals to understand how they work and approach the game. He finds a lot of common ground between professional athletes and university athletes.

“It’s reassuring to think that Michael Jordan was doing a lot of the same things that I’m doing,” said McDougall.

“It keeps you inspired.”

McDougall wants to see documentaries about what he sees as obscure sports like curling or darts and the preparation that goes into them.

“I just have no idea what that process would be, so I think that would be really cool,” he said.