There a hundreds of sports movies out there but only a small amount of them are truly great. In coming up with a list of the best sports movies that I have ever seen, I ran into a problem-half the movies were childhood favorites while the rest were movies I watched while I was older. So for my first installment of my personal favorite sports movies, here the top 10 movies of my childhood:
10. Cool Runnings
Jamaicans and bobsleds, has there ever been a more unlikely pairing? I mean it doesn’t even snow in Jamaica. Believe it or not Cool Runnings was based on a true story about a disgraced former Olympic bobsledder (Irving Blitzer played by John Candy) and a sprinter whose Olympic dreams weren’t meant (Derice Bannock). The two Olympic obsessed men get together and form a bobsledding team, with hopes of making it to Canada to competing in the Winter Olympics. This strange pairing results in a comedic and inspiring movie that no one born in the late 80s will forget.
9. Bend it Like Beckham
Ok, so this movie wasn’t from my childhood but how could I leave it off the list? The theme of following your own goals regardless of what your parents want you to be, is a theme that every child can connect with. This movie tells the story of a Sheikh girl (Jess Bharma played by Parminder Nagra) who aspires to play professional soccer even though her parents insist that she becomes a lawyer and marries a Punjabi man. Jess is seen playing soccer by Jules Paxston (played by Keira Knightley) who also aspires to become a professional soccer player despite her mother’s thoughts. The movie is full of comedic moments as well as some nice game action scenes. Extra points for the moral of the story- don’t listen to your parents.
8. The Bad News Bears (Original Version)
So this one was a little before my time but it’s a classic. An ex-minor leaguer who is now a beer-guzzling pool cleaner coaches the team full of misfits (The Bad News Bears). The team is full of talentless kids but coach Morris Buttermaker (played by Walter Matthau) could care less because he is getting paid to coach them. Finally getting fed up with losing, Buttermaker brings in the daughter of his ex-girlfriend, who is a great pitcher, to help the team out. The pitcher, Amanda Whurlizer, attracts the best baseball player in town, Kelly Leak, a motorcycle driving punk, to join the team. Behind the two star players, The Bad News Bears reverse their fortunes. This movie is full of laughs no matter how many times you watch it.
7. The Rookie
This true story is simply inspiring. Jim Morris (played by Dennis Quaid) is a high-school chemistry teacher who also coaches the school’s baseball team. Morris had aspirations of playing professional baseball but an injury wrecked his dream. But after his team presses him to tryout he gives in and promises to tryout for the MLB if his team wins a state championship. Well, the team wins the championship and Morris finally makes it into the big leagues with his 98-mph fastball as a 39 year old.
6. The Little Giants
I probably watched this movie a hundred times as a child. Another team of misfits (The Little Giants) takes on the powerhouse pewee football team, in a brother versus brother coaching battle. Kevin O’Shea (played by Ed O’Neil) an ex-NFL player is the hot shot in town and he coaches the city’s best pewee football team. He’s all about winning and during tryouts he rejects his own niece. So his younger brother, Danny O’Shea (played by Rick Moranis) decides to start his own team in hopes to beat his older brother. To this day, I could re-watch this movie; it’s a nostalgic, funny movie with a good story plus it has cameos from NFL greats, what else could you ask for?
5. The Karate Kid
“Wax on…wax off…wax on…wax off.” Who could forget the master of karate Mr.Miyagi and his famous line about how to wash a car? Mr.Miyagi takes Daniel Larusso under his wing and teaches him the art of karate so that Daniel can defend himself from the karate gang full of bullies (Cobra Kai). Eventually Daniel Son takes on the Cobra Kai gang in one of the best karate scenes of all time. Simply put this movie is a classic and if you have never seen it then shame on you, this is a must see.
4. The Mighty Ducks
This is another movie about a team full of misfits that tries to defy the odds by winning against the city powerhouse. But The Mighty Ducks is different from all the others because this movie produced an NHL franchise. Disney, the maker of this movie, founded the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (now just the Anaheim Ducks) in 1993, the year after the movie was made. No other movie has led to an actual team being formed. That alone separates this movie from the others about a team of misfits. Besides that, this movie is hilarious and has a special place with me since it is a large part of my childhood movie watching experience.
3. The Sandlot
This is the ultimate movie about the adventures of summer as a child. Scottie Smalls is the new kid in town and has to learn baseball to fit in with the other kids. Rodriguez, who is the best baseball player in the Sandlot (a backyard baseball diamond) takes Smalls under his wing and introduces him to his baseball buddies. Smalls fits in quickly and enjoys the best summer of his life that includes rescuing his dad’s signed Babe Ruth baseball from monstrous neighborhood dog, S’mores and lots of baseball. I could watch this movie a million more times and I would never get tired of it. It captures what being a young boy is like and it is entertaining throughout the entire movie.
2. Space Jam
Michael Jordan, basketball and Looney Tunes, what could possibly be a better combination? All three were vital parts of my childhood. Plus the soundtrack is a classic. A cast full of NBA greats and Looney Tunes characters provides a wildly entertaining movie. Michael Jordan has come to save the Looney Tunes from the Monstars, a team of alien slavers who took the talents from NBA greats. This movie gets bonus points because of the shoes Michael Jordan wore during the movie, the Space Jam Air Jordan 11s, which have become a major collectors’ item. This movie is just the ultimate combo of everything a child from the late 80s loved.
1. Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington is the reason this movie is number one on my list, in his unforgettable performance as Coach Herman Boone, a black coach who takes over a Virginia high school powerhouse football program during the 1970s. Coach Boone and his team suffer from the prejudice that is going on during this era. The team has its own racial problems, as the team is a mix of black and white players, who initially despise each other. The team bonds and it becomes a symbol for racial progression by the end of the movie. Not only is this movie a great sports movie, it’s a great movie in general. Denzel Washington puts on an amazing performance, which is why this movie is number one to me.