'Sport in America: Our Defining Stories': 'Where sports, family and America meet'

james-d-stern-sport-in-america-our-defining-stories-hbo-325.jpgAs people across the country gather on Thursday to give thanks for family, friends and a shared bounty, a new film from HBO and Sports Illustrated celebrates another mutual American experience.

"Sport in America: Our Defining Stories," debuting Nov. 28 on HBO, examines how the shared thread of sports has united the country over the years and helped shape the national character.

"[The film] is really very much about why sports matters to people in ways that we actually don't realize," explains James D. Stern, who directed the film for Endgame Entertainment. "You know, we talk about our parents, we talk about our kids, we talk about our politics, we talk about race. And all those things we talk about oftentimes through the safety valve of sports.

"This is sort of the intersection where sports and family and America meet," he says to  Zap2it.

The 95-minute documentary includes the personal stories of fans who have been part of sports' most transcendent events. Among them are the murders of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run in 1974, the first post-Hurricane Katrina NFL game at the New Orleans Superdome in 2006, and this year's Boston Marathon bombings.

Billy Bob Thornton, Mike Tyson, Steve Kerr, Frank Deford, Ron Shelton, Summer Sanders, Curt Menefee and Jerry Reinsdorf are among those interviewed in the film to paint a portrait of American culture, why these stories mattered and who Americans are as a people.

"This is very much not about sports; it's really about culture," Stern says. "Ultimately, this show is quite moving, and parts ... are quite funny and sometimes sad. I'm very proud of it. I think it really comes together in a very powerful way."
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