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Netflix's We Are: The Brooklyn Saints is further proof that sports are never only about sports

  • "One of the more obnoxious phrases in public discussion these days is 'Stick to sports,' the conversational penalty flag thrown when an athlete or coach or commentator takes a knee or makes a political statement," says James Poniewozik. "The slogan implies that sports can and should be neatly severed from everything else that matters in the world. Lighten up. It’s just a game. But sports are never only about sports. Just for starters, they’re about opportunity, representation, character, race and caste, fairness and justice — about who gets an equal playing field. All of these and more are the subjects of We Are: The Brooklyn Saints, a heart-stealing four-part docu-series, arriving Friday on Netflix, about boys’ youth league football in East New York. And you don’t need to know your offsides from your onside kicks to appreciate it. Like Friday Night Lights, Last Chance U and Cheer, Saints is less a story about competition than about community. Here, the community is an inner-Brooklyn neighborhood whose adults banded together to restore a football program after a police-athletics league fell to budget cuts. For the little kids in big shoulder pads, aged 7 to 13, the bruising games and practices are a chance for fun and glory. For the adults, the league can give their children structure, guidance and a shot at affording college. 'Our goal is, every season we save a life,' one coach puts it." ALSO: Brooklyn Saints is a failed attempt to re-create Cheer's magic.

    TOPICS: We Are: The Brooklyn Saints, Netflix, Documentaries