Top 10 must see sports movies


Joe Callagy, Writer

It is a hectic time in the American sports world. With Boston baseball fan’s celebrating the World Series, the NFL already halfway through the regular season, the NHL almost a quarter through, and the NBA about to tip off, we have a span of a few days where all four major sports are in-season. This is the only time that will happen in the entire year. In honor of this rarity, I present to you ten sports movies that—if you are a college-aged human—you have no excuses not to see (in no particular order,) Enjoy.

Any Given Sunday (1999)
Starring: Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz
An all-star cast comes together for this exhilarating football movie. The Miami Sharks are in tough times, made no better by the injury of their long-time starting quarterback (Quaid.) Head Coach Tony D’Amato (Pacino) is forced to start third-string, seventh-round draft pick Willie Beamen (Foxx), whose lack of respect for coaches, cockiness, and reckless abandon infuriates D’Amato. However, his raw athletic talent and ability to find ways to win is a breath of fresh air to progressive new owner Christine (Diaz.)

Friday Night Lights (2004)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton
Typical Texas high school football in the late-80’s. School takes the backseat for the Odessa-Permian Panthers, who treat these years as the high point of their lives and, for some, as a ticket out of town and into Division I football. The movie opens at training camp in late summer, at a facility many college teams would be envious of. Athletes are getting interviewed as if they are professionals. All this in a town that shuts itself down on Friday nights, when the lights are on, and everyone is either at the game or watching at home.

Varsity Blues (1999)
Starring: James van der Beek, Paul Walker, Jon Voight
High school football movies are some of the best in the business. The win-at-all-costs coach (Voight) constantly degrades his players for their mistakes, mocks them when they get injured, feeds them drugs to keep them on the field and berates the police officers when they “can’t handle” their antics. Injury to the all-star quarterback (Walker) leaves the limelight open for bookworm, happy-in-second-string Jon Moxon (van der Beek), who finds immediate success but also a great amount of personal conflict. There’s also a hot cheerleader who sports her famous “whipped cream bikini,” so there’s that.

Green Street Hooligans (2005)
Starring: Elijah Wood
This is just about the only movie that captures “football” culture so accurately as it is overseas. Soccer rivalries in the UK, for example, make Red Sox-Yankees games look like hand-held walks on the beach. Football hooliganism, the culture involving groups of fans that arrange physical brawls with fans of other clubs, is a very real thing. The “Green Street Elite” are the gang of supporters for West Ham United Football Club. Harvard student Matt (Wood) is forced by an unfortunate series of circumstances to drop out, moves to England to live with his sister, and is thrust through her husband into this underworld of football gangs who take the ideas of team loyalty and beating their opponent down to another level.

Miracle (2004)
Starring: Kurt Russell
An amazing portrayal of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team’s miracle gold-medal run, climaxing with their semi-finals victory over the unanimously favored Soviet team who had won the last four Olympic titles. Russell is Herb Brooks, the coach who—with unorthodox methods and a scarily unique coaching style—led his ragtag group of rival college hockey players and turned them inside out into the pride of a nation. Not only a great hockey movie, but also a great look into the confusing and emotional times of the Cold War, and a re-introduction to the grit of American culture.

Coach Carter (2005)
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson
Jackson plays the coach of the Richmond High Oilers, and has to fight through the administration, player conflict, and issues with the culture of the city to let his boys know how to be winners both on and off the court. Whether it is enforcing 1,000 pushups on a player who is late to practice or locking the doors of the gym because his team has failed to maintain a high GPA, Coach Ken Carter has the best interests of his players at heart. This movie is also shockingly expressive and emotional, maybe the best basketball picture of the last ten years.

Hoosiers (1986)
Starring: Gene Hackman
This is “everything you could ask for in a high school basketball movie” on steroids. If you haven’t seen it yet and call yourself a basketball fan, get out from under that rock and watch it. And if you’re not a basketball fan, this movie might turn you into one. Although it is set in 1950’s rural Indiana—not really relatable to us—something about it makes this movie extremely watchable and enjoyable. I’m not going to say more because if you hear someone say “Hoosiers” and you don’t think “I’m happy I’ve seen that movie,” then stop reading this right now and go see it.

Remember the Titans (2000)
Starring: Denzel Washington,
How did three high school football movies make this list, you ask? Because they’re all amazing! And each does it in its own way. This movie is an incredible portrayal of race, loyalty, and football in 1972 Virginia. Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) preaches perfection to his TC Williams squad, through all the hate, racism, and confusion that they will be subject to, considering they are one of the first non-segregated teams. Again, if you’re a fan of sport and have yet to see this movie, come on!

Glory Road (2006)
Starring: Josh Lucas, Jon Voight
This is the true story of the Texas Western basketball team, the first team to feature African American players and win the national championship. Coach Don Haskins (Lucas) makes it his job to recruit all the top African-American players who were neglected by white racist coaches. Him and his team face disgusting cruelty on their “glory road” but make it through. He sees color as a non-issue when it comes to playing basketball, and his boys prove that to be true, posting an amazing record in the regular season and rolling through the NCAA tournament to meet Kentucky and legendary coach Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight) in the final, where Haskins decides to only play his African American players.

42 (2013)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford
It’s crazy to think that in the 20th century, America was for decades as it was portrayed in this film (and the previous two, as well.) Jackie Robinson (Boseman) had a spectacular amount of courage, determination, and perseverance—not to mention baseball talent—that pushed him through all the hate and abuse to become the first African-American major leaguer. Behind all this was Branch Rickey (Ford), the general manager whose ideologies were decades ahead of the times. He saw through the color and the stereotypes and saw only skill and dedication. Emotionally gripping and disturbing at times, this picture captures you from the start.

Honorable Mention
Invincible (NFL: 2006) Starring: Mark Wahlberg
Hardball (Baseball: 2001) Starring: Keanu Reeves

Comedy Sports Movies That You Should Probably See Too
Major League (Baseball: 1989) Starring: Charlie Sheen
Happy Gilmore (Golf: 1996) Starring: Adam Sandler
Space Jam (Basketball: 1996) Starring: Michael Jordan

Joe Callagy can be contacted at: [email protected]

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