An aspect of the ESPN Films slate that's always stood out is the network's willingness to tackle less well-known stories. While some of their documentaries have provided illuminating new looks at massively-covered subjects (Muhammad and Larry, Without Bias, The U, You Don't Know Bo), many of the best have brought wider attention to stories that once looked like less-natural documentary subjects: a few examples there include Once Brothers, The Two Escobars, The Band That Wouldn't Die and Small Potatoes. ESPN's newly-announced "Nine For IX" initative, a series of nine documentaries from the 30 For 30 producers that will start airing this July and focus on women in sports, would seem to fall into that latter category.
These stories largely aren't all over the mainstream sports radar, but they're fascinating subjects, and they carry the potential for tremendous films. What may make this move even more of a gamble than doing one-off documentaries on relatively-obscure subjects like the USFL or the Colts' band is the common theme running through them, though. While these films focus on wildly contrasting subjects and themes, they're all about women in sports, an area that historically hasn't received much media attention or much viewer interest. Can ESPN change that? No one knows for sure, but they should be commended for giving it a try.no comments