In light of the Oscars Sunday, it got me to thinking, what is the best sports movie of all time? If you actually think about it, they’re a few contenders for top prize. You may not agree with my opinions on this one, but they’re right, after all. Keep in mind I’m 17 and haven’t been around long enough to see every sports movie, good or bad yet, but if I were to put Space Jam on this list, it be #1.
10. Hoop Dreams
Probably more known as a Documentary, It follows Chicago High School Basketball stars William Gates and Arthur Agee through their every day lives and struggles of being an inner city kid while leading their school to victory. Both were scouted to play at St. Joseph’s High School (Isiah Thomas alma mater) , a predominately white school with a storied basketball program, Agee had to transfer due to poor grades and lack of playing time to an inner city school where he became a star in the Chicago Public League. Gates, excelled at St. Josephs and went on to play at Marquette but suffered injuries that derailed his career. Both never made it to the NBA, but they are role models for younger basketball players in Chicago, trying to make their dreams a reality.
9. Field of Dreams
Kevin Costner could easily have his own category of best sports movies. If you’re a sports fan and haven’t seen this movie, I judge you. “If you build it, they will come” arguably one of the most iconic quotes in any sports movie as an Iowa farmer (Costner) risks his family economic well being to reconnect with his deceased father and build a baseball field all the while following voices that help him unravel why he is building the field in the first place. To simply put it, it’s an American classic.
8. Glory Road
Probably the “dark horse” of the list, I’ve watched this movie so many times I lost count after twenty. The true-story of the 1965-1966 Texas El Paso Miners who during a time of racial segregation and riots breaking out throughout the country, especially in the South, this team came together under coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) to coexist as a team, not as blacks or whites. The Miners make it all the way to the NCAA Championship in which Haskins’ starting lineup consists of 5 black players, the first in history.
7. The Sandlot
Two reactions to this: You’re either the guy who yells “Hell Yeah!” or I lost all my credibility with this selection. To that I say, “you’re killing me smalls.” Everyone my age, boy or girl has likely seen this movie. It wasn’t popular when it first came out, but I live by this movie, and so do many others. You know the story, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, Scotty Smalls and the rest of the squad are the best group of ball players west of the Mississippi that have to rescue a ball signed by Babe Ruth from “The Beast.” It inspired a generation and is a legendary movie that will be watch in households foooooorrrevvverrr.
Your favorite boxer and your favorite montage scenes came from this series. The Philly born Rocky Balboa is the ultimate under dog against Apollo Creed among many others and his ability to get back up and fight won the country and Academy over in 1976. Although the sequels went for one too many, if Rocky IV (where he defeats Ivan Drago) doesn’t make you wear red, white and blue and chant USA, you’re not American.
The most recent movie on the list, the 2011 movie is the type of movie you could watch over and over and over again. Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt as General Manager Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s are absolutely brilliant. The story of the 2002 Oakland A’s was about a bunch of makeshift ball players who were not making millions of dollars, won a record 20 games straight all based off of a system of metrics that is too difficult to explain right here, so go read the book, it changes your mind completely about baseball. SPOILER ALERT: Brad Pitt makes you think he runs the Oakland A’s after watching this movie.
4. Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington is the ideal High School football coach. The 2000 film is one of the most quotable and memorable sports movies of the past 20 years. A football team brought together through the adversity of segregation in Virginia, the team rattled off win after win and brought the town together in the process. Characters like Gary Bertier, Julius, Petey, Sunshine and Sheryl Yoast (Hayden Panettiere at 9 years old) make this football story an all time classic. It also inspired me to play Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t no Mountain high enough” in the locker room after every win during my football career.
The true nostalgic under dog story, Hoosiers is the movie you find when searching for something on TV and never pick up the remote again. Gene Hackman stars as he coaches a Hoosiers team undersized and out-matched yet plays sound fundamental basketball all the way to the state game in epic and breath-taking fashion. If you like sports, you love this movie.
2. Bull Durham
Romance and baseball go hand-in-hand. Add in some more (Kevin) Costner and you have a brilliant baseball movie. Crash Davis (Costner) unravels the hard truths of baseball playing for the Minor League Durham Bulls as he slowly declines from stardom while arrogant and oblivious pitcher Nuke LaLoosh makes his rapid rise playing alongside Crash. If you are ever in a rut in life, remember, the rose goes in the front.
America. The greatest pregame speech of all time. Biggest upset in history. The call. Going into 1980, Americans weren’t feeling good about anything, nothing to root for and were hated around the world. But a hockey team of all things, made up of a bunch of college kids who loved to play, pulled off the ultimate upset against hated country rival Soviet Union who played professionals and had ran the world in hockey for decades. Coached by Herb Brooks the young guns put America back on their feet again with a 4-3 victory and eventual gold medal. Will this upset ever be topped? Not likely, but hey, do you believe in miracles?
Take it or leave it, here is my list. If you think your top ten is better, leave a comment below, if you so dare.
Just missed the cut: Caddyshack, 42, We Are Marshall, Coach Carter, A league of their own, Breaking away, the Natural, Slapshot, and of course, Space Jam.