For the Armchair Athlete – My Favorite Sports Films

Confession time, people. I am not much of an athlete. Of course, I played sports in school, but I was never passionate about it (or good at it, for that matter). My athletic participation was more about the social aspect, then the actual skill and competition side of it.

Which is why it is kind of strange that I really enjoy sports films. Perhaps, it is because most of these movies feature an underdog story. Who doesn’t love an underdog? Or maybe, its seeing someone accomplish something difficult which requires a lot of practice, training and discipline (none of which I have). In any case, I find sports films, both entertaining and inspirational.

So, for those who are armchair athletes like me, I have put together a list of my favorite films featuring different sports.

Golf

The Greatest Game Ever Played -Ya’ll, I find golf incredibly boring in real life. But I adore this film starring Shia LeBouf as a poor caddy/amateur golfer who gets the opportunity to take on some of the greatest professional players in the world. I love some of the camera angles and special shots as it follows the golf ball on its’ trajectory. Not to mention, Shia’s character has the greatest young comedic sidekick ever.

Football

Rudy -If you haven’t seen Rudy, why not? No matter how many times I see this movie about a young man whose only dream is to play for Notre Dame, I cry Every. Single. Time! Rudy’s determination and perseverance in the face of multiple rejections is amazing. He never ever quits, even though everything and almost everyone is against him. And he keeps a good attitude throughout it all.

Remember the Titans -It’s been said that football is king in Texas. And although this film isn’t set in my home state, it certainly captures the spirit behind a sport which we all love. Remember the Titans shows the best things about football -team-building, unity, dedication and discipline while also tackling themes of prejudice, racism and the status quo.

Invincible -Similar to Rudy, Invincible focuses on the dream of Vince Papale a blue collar worker whose dream it is to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. This one is also based on a true story.

MMA

Warrior -My sister and I both love this movie about two estranged brothers who separately enter a national tournament and end up fighting each other. The sport of MMA is brutal and not one which I usually watch. I think what most appeals is the relational aspect of the story. Not only are does it include the two brothers, but their father who is estranged from them both thanks to his alcoholism. It’s just a very moving film.

Baseball

Fever Pitch -I mean, c’mon Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore star, so you know I’m going to love it. Plus, after a year in the Northeast, I can totally confirm the intensity and commitment of Red Sox fans.

The Pride of the Yankees -This classic film starring Gary Cooper tells the story of Lou Gehrig. Obviously the movie plays around a bit with the historical truth a bit. But Cooper gives an amazing performance of Gehrig.

Trouble With the Curve -Though the film is about a professional baseball scout, it’s really more of a story about a father-daughter relationship. Still, it’s interesting, to see the process of scouting and I love Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.

Bobsledding

Cool Runnings – Who doesn’t love this charming little Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team? Every time I see it, I end with a smile on my face. On another note, I really miss John Candy.

Basketball

The Pistol: Birth of a LegendThis is a nostalgic film for me. My dad played college basketball and introduced me to this film. He always wanted one of his kids to play basketball, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it. However, I did love this movie about one of the sport’s true legends.

Ice-Skating

The Cutting Edge -I’ve always loved watching the pairs ice-skating competition during the Olympics. So this movie about a temperamental ice queen who must pair with a washed up hockey player quickly became one of my childhood favorites.

Horse Racing

National Velvet -Starring a young Elizabeth Taylor with a quintessential English setting, this film is nothing short of charming. I love that Velvet’s dream of winning the Grand National is not for her own sake but for the sake of her horse. It’s just the sweetest love story between man and animal ever made.

Secretariat -Just an inspiring story about an underdog horse and its’ owner that gets me in the feels every time.

Hockey

Miracle -It’s been a long while since I saw this film about the men’s US men’s Olympic hockey team. It makes me wish I had been old enough to watch the 1980 game live at the time it happened.

Tennis

Wimbledon -I love this sweet little romantic comedy about a has-been tennis player who gets a boost in his playing from his secret romance with one of the hottest female players. I rarely see Paul Bettany as the lead nor do I often see films about this particular sport.

What are some of your favorite sports films? 

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2 Replies to “For the Armchair Athlete – My Favorite Sports Films”

  1. Some great recommendations here – thanks! I was very pleased to see “Pride of the Yankees” and “National Velvet” on your list, along with “The Cutting Edge”, “Cool Runnings” and “Rudy” (which made me WEEP).

    Some of my fave sports movies are “Moneyball” and “Trouble Along the Way”.

    You’ve got me in the mood to watch some sports films this weekend!

    1. I just watched Trouble Along the Way and loved it! In fact, I have a review coming for it shortly. I haven’t seen Moneyball yet, but my sister also recommends it, so I guess I have to watch it now. There are so many great sports films, it made it hard to narrow down my list.

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