There have been thousands of sports movies throughout the years. Some have been absolute crap and most are mediocre at best, but there are that select few that remain deep-seated in our memories. Those movies not only invoke our passion of sports, they manage to cross over and teach us greater life lessons. They teach us the importance of hard work and learning from our mistakes. They teach us that the impossible can come true. That’s what I consider a great sports movie. Well, either that or it has to be really funny.
Below are my Top 10 sports movies of all time. There are some popular movies missing – either because I don’t think they are as good as everyone else, or because I haven’t seen them.
10. Major League – This one falls under the comedy category. Willie Mays Hays, Jake Taylor, Pedro Cerano, Rick Vaughn, and Jake Taylor somehow manage to band together to win the pennant in spite of their owner. It’s not the best comedy ever, but it’s certainly the best sports comedy ever. Major League 2 is equally as good. Let’s pretend that Major League 3 was never made.
9. Remember the Titans – The best part about this flick is that it shows how sports can transcend society. The unification of the black and white high school is successful only because of the bonds formed between the two schools on the football field.
8. Rudy – How can you not be inspired watching this? No one believed in this kid and he not only got into ND, he made the football team. Most people would have given up long before Rudy, and it is a testament to his character for enduring and being able to live his dream.
7. Miracle – I am a huge ‘Miracle on Ice’ fan so I was a bit skeptical about the movie. Usually they find a way to screw up history. But amazingly, Disney stuck to the story nearly perfectly. By involving everyone from the original team in the making of the movie, including the late Herb Brooks, they made sure the movie was accurate. I love having Al Michaels call the action; it feels like I’m actually watching the real game!
6. He Got Game – This film chronicles high school senior Jesus Shuttlesworth, the best college basketball prospect in the country, as he deals with pressures from his father and girlfriend who are trying to influence his decision for their own benefit. Ray Allen is the perfect choice for Shuttlesworth because Allen WAS Shuttlesworth in real life a few years before that. How many actors can make that claim?
5. Eight Men Out – The best part of the movie was that they didn’t try to dumb it down for Hollywood – they made a point to follow the story as it was told in the book. This meant that it had the feel of a documentary, which is probably why this movie isn’t that popular, but true sports fans will appreciate that what they are getting is close to the truth.
4. Field of Dreams – This movie will appeal to sports fans and non sports fans alike. Sports fans will love how they work in Shoeless Joe and other classic greats. Non sports fans will appreciate the fantastic journey that Ray takes to build the field of his dreams. “If you build it, he will come” is one of the great movie quotes of all time.
3. When We Were Kings – I’m too young to remember Ali as a fighter, but this movie truly shows his greatness. Forman is the superior fighter, but Ali uses his wit to defeat Forman in “The Rumble in the Jungle”, one of the greatest fights ever.
2. Hoosiers – If you ever need to get pumped up, watch this movie. Nothing seems impossible after seeing Coach Norman Dale lead his team to the Indiana state championship.
1. The Natural – I own the DVD of The Natural and I’ve seen it more times than I can remember. Yet, anytime I see it on TV I immediately freeze and watch. It captivates me like few movies do. Roy Hobbs gets that second chance that we all want. He had the talent to be the best pitcher ever, but had it taken away by a mysterious shooter. Years later, he reappears as an outfielder and leads his team to the top of the league with his famous “Wonder Boy” bat.