Sports Movies

Sports Movies

I have never been a sports fan, but when I think back to some of my favorite movies, the ones that made me cry or stand up and cheer, I am shocked by how many of them were sports movies. The Mighty Ducks and The Sandlot were pivotal cinematic moments in my life.

I walked away from these movies with more than just an appreciation for the athletes and the games that they loved. I felt like I was part of the team and I walked away from these movies a slightly better person.

Great movies have the ability to change us and sports movies do that in a way that connects with even the most reluctant athlete among us. Below is a list of the five sports movies that are must-haves for any movie buff.

Top 5: Sports Movies Reviews

Recommendation #1

Recommendation #2

Recommendation #3

Recommendation #4

Recommendation #5

Rudy (Special Edition)

Movies based on true stories are inspiring because they are true. They don't just show us the truth of the human spirit, but they act as signposts in history for what can be achieved when preparation meets opportunity. That is the story of Rudy.

The main character can't seem to catch a break for the majority of the film, but his determination to hold on to the dream is moving. Sean Austin's portrayal of the main character is epic in both it's depth and subtlety.

The dramatic telling of a nobody finally getting his much deserved moment of glory is so stirring that even the most stoic of moviegoers were moved to tears.


  • If you love the fighting Irish you'll love this film.
  • It's a family friendly film that you can watch with your whole family.
  • The story line is inspiring.


  • There is some controversy around the historical accuracy of the movie and the character of the real-life Rudy.

Rocky I

No list of great sports movies would be complete without Rocky. The 1976 movie launched the career of Sylvester Stallone into orbit and more than forty years later the franchise is still alive. The iconic scene of him running up the steps to the art museum is immortalized by an actual bronze statue on those same steps in Philadelphia.

The story of a South Philly nobody working his way up to become a boxing champion is one we can all understand. What we love about Rocky is that he's not so smart, and not invincible. He gets hurt. He loses. He falls in love with a girl who's not so pretty but he loves her madly.

He's not the greatest boxer and isn't afraid to admit that he is out of his league, but he takes his shot anyway.

All he has is a big heart and hard work to get him through, and when he emerges victorious, busted and bloody, we all cheer for the South Philly underdog who made good.


  • With a budget of under one million dollars, they packed a whole lot of heart into this little movie.
  • One of the few Sly Stallone performances that are as big on heart as they are on muscles.
  • A sweet romance that doesn't make you cringe.


  • Portrayals of domestic violence are done casually and can be triggering for some.
  • The soundtrack is a little cheesy to some people.

Remember the Titans (Widescreen Edition) by Denzel Washington

Let me admit my bias from the outset. As a body of work, Denzel Washington's filmography is a solid body of work, and Remember the Titans is one of the gems in that bucket.

The 2000 release tells the story of T.C. William's football team in 1970s Virginia as it integrates its new black players and gets a new, black coach. The film deals with issues of race and class head-on and doesn't flinch when the hypocrisy of well-meaning people reinforces the prejudice and injustice that plagues America until today.

But, through the power of sports, this set of boys begin to see each other as people and respect the talents and struggles of people they'd hated and feared. There are a number of stellar performances and the action sequences push through the idea that these boys are more than a great football team.

Together they are truly unbeatable. Together they are titans.


  • Denzel Washington...need I say more?
  • It's a wonderful protrayal of a moment in our history where everything was changing, including our attitudes about women in sports.
  • It doesn't ignore the very real and often violent consequences of desegregation, especially in the south.


  • I wish we could all overcome racism with sing-alongs in the team locker rooms, but that isn't how it happens...except in this movie.
  • Pacing is a problem, it moves too quickly from one emotional moment to another without giving the audience enough time to process.

A League of Their Own

Women in sports have always been a tricky subject to tackle. In a world where women are still assumed to be the "fairer sex" how do you create opportunities for female athletes to shine without offending cultural sensitivities? You put them in short skirts, of course.

A League of Their Own stars Tom Hanks and Geena Davis in a film about a short-lived female baseball league formed by a greedy candy bar maker during World War II. The ladies all have their reasons for playing.

Some of them are escaping bad relationships, and others just want the opportunity to finally shine, doing what they love most. But most importantly, it's about these ladies learning to take themselves seriously and forcing the world to do the same.

More than just pretty faces in cute uniforms, they are athletes in every sense of the word, and nobody can take that from them. You laugh and you cry with them and for them.

Tom Hanks is stellar as the drunken, sarcastic, abrasive coach who discovers, perhaps a little late, that girls can be amazing ballplayers too.


  • I'm not a fan of singers becoming actors but I have to admit that Madonna does a wonderful job in this film.
  • Tom Hanks gives a side-splitting performance.
  • This is another film that you can watch with your whole family and feel good about it.


  • There is a slight nod to the issues of race in the movie, but other than that this film focuses almost exclusively on the struggles of a very narrow slice of America during a very difficult time.
  • It's a story about girl power, but the most powerful performance was given by a man.

Major League

This 1989 release did what no other movie was able to do for me; it made baseball look fun. I have never been a fan of America's pastime, but Major League made me believe that there must be some magic at work out there on the diamond.

I watched it with my mother and grandmother and I remember all three of us laughing together as a team of misfits worked to pull their team out of last place and win the pennant. To this day I can't look at Charlie Sheen without hearing "Wild Thing" playing in my head.

The film asks the question "what do you do when nobody believes in you?" The answer; you teach them never to underestimate you.

In my opinion, this film is a classic. There will never be another sports movie that delivers as much in laughs as it does on heart.


  • This movie doesn't take itself seriously and neither should you. It's funny and you feel comfortable laughing at all of the characters.
  • The movie makes baseball seem fast-paced and engaging, even for those who don't like sports.
  • Wild Thing, I think I love you....


  • The plot is predictable. You pretty much know how this is going to end from the very beginning.
  • It relies of some stereotypes for it's comedy.

Final Verdict

We all love an underdog and that is one of the themes that run through each of these movies. They inspire us to be better than we are and remind us that greatness takes courage and sacrifice. They may not inspire you to pick up a bat or kick a ball, but they have been beacons of encouragement for me when my dreams seemed unattainable.

Each of these movies has earned its place in cinematic history. They changed the game in more ways than one, using sports to tell a very human story. More importantly, these films should be shared. They should be watched with grandparents and young children alike. Even if you, like me, are not a sports fan these films will give you a reason to stand up and cheer.



Rudy (Special Edition)

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