There are only two days a year when no major sports games are held: the day before baseball’s Major League All-Star Game, and the day after. On every other day of the year, a major sporting event occurs somewhere in the country. Indeed, there are only 26 days a year when the PGA is not on tour, 51 days without tennis, and 95 days without a NASCAR event. Many sport seasons overlap – baseball ends long after football starts, basketball begins during football, and hockey runs long after baseball starts.
I’m not a huge sports fan. Sure, I grew up watching Wide World of Sports, but our family sport was Indy car racing, and if you practice that, police get annoyed. I earned an inter-dorm basketball championship shirt in college, but that was because we won three games by default, and yes, I watch two full weeks of the Olympics each time.
But for some unknown reason, I do like movies about sports. And there are a plethora of really good ones. Every sport has a loyal following, and some sports are more of a specialty than others (there aren’t many mainstream martial arts films beyond The Karate Kid, and when I thought of skiing movies and thought of The Other Side of the Mountain (yeah, I’m old) and Eddie the Eagle – real skiers have movies no one in the average theater knows of), but no matter what the sport, there’s at least one film about it (Cool Runnings not withstanding).
Best of the Best
Ten films are on almost every Best Sports Movie list available. They’re grade-A movies that can make even the non-sportsman cheer for the underdog:
Hoop Dreams / Field of Dreams / Moneyball / Bull Durham / Rocky / Rudy / Caddyshack / Raging Bull / Tin Cup / Million Dollar Baby
Wider World of Sports
Yes, you say, but three of those are boxing movies. I’m a competitive swimmer. Then check out The Swimmer, with Burt Lancaster. If you want a top-rated movie for a sport without a weekday TV contract, try:
Golf: Caddyshack (no matter what list you look at, golfers insist this is THE best golf movie, but check out Tin Cup or The Legend of Bagger Vance for something more serious).
Tennis: Borg vs. McEnroe, Battle of the Sexes
Running: Jericho Mile, Chariots of Fire
Skiing: Deep and Light
Martial Arts: Drunken Master II (Jackie Chan)
Auto racing: Days of Thunder, Rush
Soccer: Pele: Birth of a Legend, Bend it Like Beckham
Billiards: The Hustler
Ice Skating: The Cutting Edge, Ice Castles, I, Tonya
Hockey: Miracle, Slap Shot, Mystery Alaska
Surfing: Soul Surfer, Blue Crush
Weightlifting: Pumping Iron (the absolute classic!)
Rodeo: The Electric Horseman, 8 Seconds
Killer Roller Skating: Rollerball, Whip It
Dodgeball: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Apocalyptic Manhunting: The Running Man, The Hunger Games
Always Broom for One More
And Quidditch? Yes, that crazy game from Harry Potter is a real modern-day Muggle sport. Quidditch was first played on the campus of Middlebury College in 2005, with actual world championships (but no flying on the brooms), and there is still a push to make Quidditch an Olympic sport. Or you can follow Connecticut Quidditch teams at Yale, UConn, or Quinnipiac to watch live action on the pitch. (Yes, I’m serious. My daughter’s team ranked 22nd in the world).
Don’t pay those exorbitant stadium prices or suffer through repetitive commercials! Grab your beer or bottled water, your popcorn or your Ball Park Frank, and cheer for your favorite sport with one of these awesome sports films!