The NCAA basketball tournament leading into the new baseball season is arguably among the best few weeks on the sports calendar. But the kickoff to March Madness and opening day also coincide with three documentaries highlighting different aspects of sports’ darker side, especially in its impact beyond the court and field.
Given the amount of office pools built around the tournament, Showtime might have the most timely entry with “Action,” a series about the world of sports gambling, focusing primarily on money wagered on pro football. While showcasing the colorful characters who participate — and the pained or exultant faces in casino sports books — the four-part show also delves into the destructive nature of compulsive gambling.
Hitting theaters before Major League Baseball begins, meanwhile, is “Screwball,” director Billy Corben’s look at the use of performance-enhancing drugs, zeroing in on the 2014 scandal — almost comical in its details and scope — that swept up a number of players, including the year-long suspension of then-Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.
Finally, there’s “Roll Red Roll,” a limited release that examines what came to be known as “rape culture” in the story of an inebriated teenage girl who was sexually assaulted by members of the high-school football team in Steubenville, Ohio in 2012.